NORTH CAPTIVA, Fla. — Hurricane Ian left behind destruction across southwest Florida. North Captiva is trying to pick up the pieces as the wind damaged homes.
Captain Todd with Funshine Island Services took us to the island on Thursday, showing us the damage left in his community. He introduced us to a fire commissioner, who has seen the island go through a lot since Hurricane Ian hit.
“I would say at least half of the houses out here have substantial damage,” said Duncan Rosen, a commissioner with North Captiva Fire. “We have catastrophic wind damage here.”
Every day, Rosen looks at the damage on the island. He also hears the sounds of generators. The issue with running them is finding gas to do that.
With the Co-Op closed on Pine Island, which is a 20 minute boat ride from Captiva, they now have to go nearly two hours by boat to Cape Coral to get gas.
“The co-op is crucial to this island. That’s why Pine Island is made to have access to the barrier islands and without that, it’s very challenging,” Rosen said. “Mainly it’s the gas and diesel to keep our equipment moving so we can continue our clean-up efforts.”
He said the barges are also a concern and believes several are out of commission right now. Another concern is tourism season, and how it likely won’t happen.
“Think about the workers and the families that depend on the revenue from the tourism,” Rosen said.
Through challenging times comes resiliency. The North Captiva community came together, along with employees from local businesses and other workers spent days to clear the roads of debris.
“It’s just going to be a day-by-day process,” said Lukas Warrelmann, whose lived on North Captiva for the past 21 years.
He rode out the storm on the island with at least 33 other people. Warrelmann said he went out into the storm and saved two women. After the storm went through, he found outside damage to his home.
“I got a lot to rebuild. I got the house, the shop and just the whole entire island,” Warrelmann said.
It’s an island known for its crystal blue water, which started to show its colors on Thursday.
“It’s a sign of hope that the island will return to the way it was,” Rosen said.
Leaving the island the way it is, which is what Captain Todd had to do on Thursday, and he has a story of his own.
“Did lose a home,” he said. “It took about four or five tumbles and rolled and completely destroyed every bit of it.”
The captain has a GoFundMe set up to help him get a roof over his head. What did make it out is his life, his family and his boat.
“That is the main thing. I can still make some money down the road here,” he said.
He relies on the boat for his livelihood, but for now, he’s using it to get gas for his friends on North Captiva. Prior to being a charter boat captain, he serviced air conditioners for the Captiva area.
With no power on the islands and no season, so many are going to hurt from the aftermath of Hurricane Ian for months to come.
“The list just goes on and on and on for the amount of people that depend on season bad,” said Captain Todd.
He knows it will take some time to recover, but hopes help will come from the federal government quickly.
“This is my community, my family,” he said. “We’re all out here hurting right now.”
Hurt that turned into strength for the North Captiva community. It’s a community that will rebuild its white sand beaches and crystal blue water.
“Nature’s healing and we’ll be next with it,” Captain Todd said.