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Sanibel, Captiva reminded to secure hurricane re-entry passes for season

By Staff | Apr 25, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Residential Pass

Sanibel will once again reuse the 2016 hurricane passes for the upcoming storm season.

Residents and businesses should apply for the city’s Hurricane Reentry Pass Program in case an evacuation is ordered. Those already enrolled should make sure they still have their passes.

Officials cited the city’s continuing efforts to cut costs for keeping the 2016 ones active.

The passes help to aid security, speed up re-entry and provide traffic control.

“It makes it easier on the people doing the re-entry,” Lance Henninger, emergency management specialist for the Sanibel Emergency Management Department, said. “It’s just a lot easier than trying to do all that screening out at the toll plaza. It’s faster and easier for you, it’s faster and easier for us.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Commercial Pass

For residents, a limit of two passes are issued per address. The 2016 passes are purple.

For businesses, only enough passes are issued to facilitate the damage assessment process, which officials noted typically means one pass. The 2016 commercial passes are tan.

Any older hurricane passes can be discarded.

“If anyone has a pass series that’s not 2016 purple or 2016 tan – if they have any other passes, they may as well thrown them away,” he said, noting that every new series gets assigned new colors.

Henninger noted that the city works with Lee County in terms of ordering evacuations.

“The decision is a joint effort,” he said.

The community is strongly urged to heed any evacuation orders.

“If the government, police and fire departments are running away, clearly you need to leave, as well,” Henninger said.

Sanibel and Captiva have been broken down into a number of re-entry zones.

The zones are numbered from the re-entry access point – the causeway – then from Sanibel through to Captiva. Typically, a couple of zones are worked on at a time during the re-entry clearing process.

“We implement that when things are a bit worse,” he said. “It’s all about safety and security.”

“As the zones are made ready, we allow people to return,” Henninger added.

The second type is an all-zone re-entry, which was used following Hurricane Irma.

“We sustained a lot less than we could have had. That’s why we did not have to implement the phased re-entry last year,” he said. “We’re always happen when the conditions are such that we can do that.”

Upon re-entry, two lanes will be opened at the toll plaza.

One will be for pass holders, and the other for those without them.

“Even people without a pass can get in when their zone in ready,” Henninger said.

For those with passes, they may need to provide a photo ID with their pass.

Those without passes will be required to provide a valid photo ID, preferably a driver’s license bearing an island address, and one document with an island address, like a utility bill or vehicle registration.

He noted that the passes will work with any vehicle.

“And it covers everybody in the vehicle,” Henninger said. “Not every individual in the vehicle has to have a pass.”

Residents and businesses are encouraged to avoid misplacing or losing their passes.

“Don’t lose them,” he said. “Know where they are at all times.”

It is recommended that year-round residents store their packet in their vehicle’s glovebox. Those not present for storm season should bring them and any important documents to their other residence.

“Keep their pass in a file where they keep all their important paperwork on their Sanibel or Captiva property,” Henninger said.

Though not the best option, the junk drawer in one’s home also could work.

The passes are issued year-round Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sanibel Police Department. Applications can be submitted via the mail, fax or email. Residential and commercial passes are available with each having its own application and verification requirements specific to it.

The program was present before Hurricane Charley made landfall in 2004 with identification cards. After the storm struck, hangtags began being used, as well as the islands being divided into zones. The current program began in 2016 with residential passes made purple and commercial ones made tan.

For more information about the Hurricane Reentry Pass Program or to print an application, visit the “Emergency Management” link found under Sanibel Police Department at www.mysanibel.com.