Charley's aftermath near the Bubble Room on Captiva. SC photo by Dorothy Wallace
Charley's aftermath near the Bubble Room on Captiva. SC photo by Dorothy Wallace

On Friday someone said, “Hey, yesterday was the 11th anniversary of Charley.” It was. Charley hit Sanibel and Captiva on Aug. 13, 2004, and 11 years down the line from that day almost nobody paid any attention.

We say almost nobody. Channel 2 did a piece on it and part of that piece was that practically nobody paid Hurricane Charley any mind. We understand that 11 years isn't a milestone when it comes to anniversaries, like the 10th anniversary of Charley was last year, or will be at 15 years. But the 11th anniversary, and the 12th, 13th and 14th, are opportunities to look back at what happened and, in the case of a hurricane, ask what happens if another Hurricane Charley rolls across our shores.

During spring and early summer both Sanibel and Captiva held their annual hurricane seminars and they were fairly well attended, but it has been 11 years now since Charley and 10 since Wilma. That's a decade where hurricanes bypassed Florida and indications are that hurricanes are out of sight-out of mind for a lot of Floridians right now.

Charley was a small hurricane that looked like it was going to shoot right past here and head further north in the Gulf of Mexico. But on Aug. 13 Charley made a sharp right turn and came here. The eye went right across Captiva, which at that point had just a few hearty souls left on the island, most of them holed up in the firehouse. Charley was small for a hurricane and he was quick, which minimized flood damage. But he wasted both islands, most notably ridding Sanibel and Captiva of their Australian pine trees which had been ill-planted.

It's not that people who left Sanibel and Captiva and returned to devastation have forgotten. They remember, even if the memory is fading a bit. It's the others, the million people who have moved to Florida in the past decade and young people who have yet to see a hurricane. In modern parlance, they just don't get it.

In any event, Charley's anniversary came and went quietly, something the real thing can never do. No one wants another hurricane and we would all prefer to rely on education rather than experience when it comes to getting ready and then dealing with a hurricane. But this is Florida. A real-life hurricane experience will greet us at some point. At that point, all the education and awareness we can have becomes important.

Charley Virtual Museum

The Santiva Chronicle's Hurricane Charley Virtual Museum is still posted here at Here's the link to a series of stories about the storm that whipped through here 11 years ago on Aug. 13.

Island Weather

Showers and a thunderstorm later are in the forecast today from AccuWeather at with a high of 89. Sunday should be a bit sunnier but a thunderstorm is likely in the afternoon with another high of 89.


Low tide comes at an excellent time for early morning beach walkers on Sanibel at 7:30 a.m. Low tide returns at 8:42 p.m. with high tide today at 1:07 p.m.

The sun sets on Captiva today at 8:05 p.m.