provided to The Santiva Chronicle
FISH of SANCAP works with the City of Sanibel, Lee County Emergency Management and others every year to review plans and any changes for the hurricane season, from June 1 to Nov. 30. FISH staff compiles an updated Hurricane Resource Packet, which contains details on where to go, what to do and how to prepare for an approaching storm. They are available now.
The resource packet and hurricane season preparation is one of the first programs the organization offered when it began 40 years ago. FISH President & CEO Maggi Feiner recalled the organization helped evacuate residents, put up storm shutters and even made hotel reservations. “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,” said Feiner.
FISH staff and volunteers verify evacuation routes, flood zones, hotels with generators, shelters, pet accommodations and more to update the packet each year.
“With the safety of our neighbors in mind, we want to make sure everyone has reliable information in case a storm approaches,” said FISH Senior Services Director Erika Boyles. She oversees the program and coordinates the team’s efforts in making sure all information is accurate.
The organization has seen a shift over the past few years in travel schedules for season residents and many new residents who are experiencing their first hurricane season. The resource packet filled with vital information and checklists helps them be prepared. FISH volunteers, along with stakeholders such as the city, works with the most vulnerable residents to ensure their plans are up to date, as well.
The FISH Hurricane Committee will stay in touch with those most vulnerable residents before, during and after storms. Out-of-state family members are also updated on the status of the storm and their loved ones, to the extent possible.
“This is a huge undertaking and a true collaboration between many island and off-island organizations,” said Boyles. “Our volunteers spend many hours updating and verifying information. When our documents are complete, they 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 assembled the FISH Resource Packets. The club, sponsored by the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, challenges middle school students to identify places of need within the community and find ways to help. Young leaders are developed and valuable connections in the community are made through the club.
Boyles stresses the importance of making an evacuation plan, gathering emergency supplies, creating lists of contacts and medicine, as well as other details listed in the packet. To receive one, contact the Walk-In Center at 239-472-4775 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appointments may be arranged for those who would like a more detailed discussion on how to prepare for hurricane season. For additional information on FISH and its programs and services, contact Executive Director Maria Espinoza at 472-4775 or visit the FISH website.