Annually, FISH OF SANCAP, the City of Sanibel, Lee County Emergency Management, and others work together to review plans and any changes for the upcoming hurricane season. FISH then compiles an updated Hurricane Resource Packet providing detailed information on where to go, what to do, and how to prepare in the event of an approaching storm.
The resource packet and hurricane season preparation is one of the first programs the FISH organization offered islanders when it began 40 years ago. “When the program began, FISH helped evacuate residents off island, put up storm shutters and even made hotel reservations for folks,” recalls Maggi Feiner, President & CEO, FISH. “While we do not offer those specific services any longer, we do provide critical information and helpful steps to stay safe before, during and after a storm.”
FISH and their team of volunteers verify evacuation routes, flood zones, hotels with generators, shelters, pet accommodations, and more to update the packet annually. While the official start of hurricane season is June 1, FISH provides the Resource Packet beginning in May. “With the safety of our neighbors in mind, we want to make sure everyone has reliable information in case a storm approaches,” says Erika Broyles, Senior Services Director. Broyles oversees the program and coordinates the efforts of the team to insure all information is true and correct.
Over the past few years, the organization has seen a shift in travel schedules of seasonal residents and many new residents that are experiencing their first-ever hurricane season. To help them prepare, FISH offers the packet of vital information and checklists. FISH volunteers, in collaboration with other stakeholders like the City of Sanibel, also work with the most vulnerable residents to ensure their annual emergency evacuation plan is up to date. The FISH Hurricane Committee will keep in touch with them before, during, and after storms. To the extent possible, out of state family members are updated on the status of the storm and loved ones.
“This is a huge undertaking and a true collaboration between many island and off-island organizations,” continues Broyles. “Our volunteers spend many hours updating and verifying information. When our documents are complete, they then set up appointments with our most vulnerable to discuss the packet and solidify plans for evacuation, in the event the islands are ordered to do so.”
This year, the Sanibel Interact Club, sponsored by the San-Cap Rotary Club, assembled the FISH Resource Packets. The club challenges middle school students to identify places of need within the community and find ways to help. Through their work, the Club develops young leaders making valuable connections in the community and elsewhere and highlights their important role in making positive change.
FISH stresses the importance of making an evacuation plan, gathering emergency supplies, creating lists of contacts and medicine, and other helpful details that are listed in their packet.
To receive a free Hurricane Resource Packet, please contact the FISH Walk-In Center at 239-472-4775 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Packets may also be downloaded from the organization’s website, www.fishofsancap.org. Appointments may be arranged for those who would like a more detailed discussion on how to prepare during hurricane season.