As the community continues with disaster recovery more than seven months after Ian, many are weighing out the costs of repair versus the costs of tear down and rebuild. Some have received assistance from FEMA while others were denied; many are experiencing issues with insurance settlements, particularly those with high deductibles, while others did not have insurance at all.
The needs of every member of our community are plenty. Only a handful of businesses have reopened; others are planning for a reopening in the future; many will not be returning. Job opportunities have diminished significantly, and the workforce continues to seek employment opportunities, a safe and secure place to live and means to take care of their families. Through communication, surveys, meetings with the City and State and other organizations, FISH is assessing the needs of community residents and workforce which changes frequently.
FISH has listened to the cry for help to obtain rebuild supplies and furnishings and have formed the appropriate partnerships to distribute necessary items for folks to begin their recovery process. They continue to provide emergency financial assistance for rent/mortgage, utility and medical purposes. Since landfall FISH has been supplying islanders with shelf stable food, water, cleaning supplies and other essentials for day-to-day living. Looking to the summer months and the beginning of another hurricane season, they are rolling out their hurricane preparedness packet, reinstating their children’s food backpack program and providing assistance with youth summer scholarships.
FISH’s target population is anyone who lives or works on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, including the most vulnerable senior population. Many of those requesting assistance for Hurricane Ian recovery have never had to ask for assistance before. Some are working household families, others are retired seniors – all have been affected in some way by Hurricane Ian’s destruction. FISH is answering all requests for assistance that include slight asks, such as providing a bicycle to someone who lost their vehicle, to more significant requests including emergency financial assistance, providing rebuilding supplies and assisting with medical and mental health referrals and resources. FISH has stood with the Sanibel and Captiva community for more than 40 years and will continue to serve as the island social service organization now and in the future. If you or someone you know is seeking assistance, please contact FISH at 239.472.4775.