October 18, 2022

 A peaceful start to your day

Do Nothing For Two Minutes. Take a minute, turn up the volume as we take you to Florida's Sanibel Island, in calmer times, at the J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge.

Videographer: Charles Schultz MORE

Photo taken by Steve Allen at "Ding" Darling in 2016 entitled Peaceful Quiet.  Thanks to Steve for asking his friends and family to support #DingStrong! 

Refuge damage still under assessment.  

Photo of a Mangrove Cuckoo by Tom Miller

As Refuge staff continues to assess the more than 7,000-acre land and water mass within the Lee County Refuge area, along with Refuge complex holdings in the Everglades, reports of damage are generalized.

Serious impacts to vegetation, boardwalks, observation decks, and the solar panels and other Visitor & Education Center roofing have been reported. The lack of power and limited effectiveness of generators have meant no air-conditioning and issues inherent with humidity and dampness. The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society (DDWS) office was submerged by storm surge, estimated at around 5 feet and ruined. Intern housing has been rendered unlivable, and the maintenance area experienced extensive damage. Full assessment of complete damage will take much more time, and we are unable to release any other specifics. Thank you for understanding. Further inquiries should be directed to USFWS.

Biologists currently are unable to determine the recovery time for the wildlife habitat. This report from Everglades impact offers a glimpse of how Hurricane Ian, its wind and storm surge, affected the mangrove estuary in this part of the state. However, with the hurricane having a direct hit on Sanibel, the concerns are high on the status of the mangroves.  That determination and assessment continues. 

Hurricane Ian Resource Links

If you are a resident or business affected by Hurricane Ian, here is a printable pdf of resources. We are trying to keep it updated and hoping it helps. 

If you have links you have found helpful, please let us know and we will add them to the list. Thank you to Amanda, Mac and April for their help!

Here are a few new links:

  • LCEC estimated resotration times for Sanibel Island - SOME essential services , such as the RO Plant and fire stations, restored by Oct. 20. MORE
  • Island Water Association (IWA) announces that water is available for construction and property clean up on Sanibel and Captiva islands. MORE 
  • Danger for infections from water. MORE
  • U.S. Postal Service alternate location for the Captiva Post Office and Sanibel Post Office. If you haven't gotten this taken care of, we encourage you to do so.  
  • FISH has been working with the United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties and EDC and they have tarps available to be picked up at the Sanibel Community Church. FISH has also arranged for free ice at that location as well. 
  • Thought provoking article on the rebuilding of the Sanibel Causeway
  • Captiva Storm Ready has a website with helpful information for both the islands of Captiva and Sanibel.  

Find more resource links HERE.

The Emotional Impacts after a devastating storm like Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian has impacted people in ways we may not even know and mental health issues and awareness at this time is very important. 

The following are links to two articles about the emotional toll from Hurricane Ian:



According to the American Psychological Association, common symptoms of trauma include:  

  • Intense irritability, mood swings, anxiety and depression
  • Flashbacks that lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating
  • Confusion or difficulty making decisions
  • Sleep or eating issues
  • A change in interpersonal relationships, such as an increase in conflict
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea and chest pain

We all need to be cognizant of the signs to seek help for ourselves or encourage others demonstrating signs to seek help.  

The following are some other links to find help: 

  • In support of Hurricane Ian relief, Lee Health is able to extend free TeleHealth services to our community from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. Click HERE to get started

  • The Florida Department of Health and DCF have partnered with BetterHelp to offer mental health services through three months of free online therapy to those impacted by Hurricane Ian. To access these free services, Floridians can visit betterhelp.com/voucher and use code: HurricaneIan. You will then be hen prompted with a questionnaire to best match you with a licensed mental health professional.

  • Additional mental health resources through the State of Florida MORE

Photo by Kathleen Colligan of a Tri-colored Heron

A little update from Ranger Toni and Ranger Jess of USFWS
city logo

Daily Updates by the City of Sanibel

HERE is the October 17 update from the City with helpful information and links. We encourage you to regularly visit mysanibel.com

It is also our understanding that the leaders will be considering options to allow temporary trailers/RV during reconstruction and it is our hope they will allow for this to occur, understanding there will significant logistic hurdles and guidelines, but this is something that is needed to help move the recovery along more efficiently.

Research Cruise Investigating Post-Ian Conditions

There is no one person or one organization that can do all the work needed in conservation and wildlife protection.  Our islands are very lucky to have strong partnerships and collaborations with the various non-profit organizations, one of which is with SCCF. The following article discusses work they are doing to do post-Ian water research that all of us, including the refuge will benefit from.  READ MORE

Captains for Hire 

Even with the causeway opening to island residents on October 21st, the challenge and time to cross will be immense.  Boat transportation is still needed to coordinate getting onto the island. CLICK to see a list of contacts.  NOTE:  The DDWS does not endorse any of these people and they are only being listed as a resource and reference.

Volunteer Mental Health Professionals Needed

Many people have asked how they can help the non-profit island community even from afar.  If you are a credentialed mental health professional and willing to provide free mental health counseling to the nonprofit employees of Sanibel and Captiva, that would be very much appreciated.  

Please contact Birgie Miller, Executive Director of the DDWS via email if you are able to help and to discuss details. Please type Mental Health in the email title.  Thank You for Caring! 

Gladiolus Food Pantry

Gladiolus Food Pantry is the only year-round food pantry in the Harlem Heights area. They are providing hurricane relief food Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at 10511 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908.

There are other links to in our resource page to help those in need. 

Lee County Disaster Recovery Center

Lee County Disaster Recovery Center is open daily 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. at Lakes Regional Library at 15290 Bass Rd., Fort Myers, FL. 

Disaster Recovery Centers are  coordinated efforts between FEMA, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and state agencies and partners to provide wrap-around resources and information about recovery programs and disaster assistance to Hurricane Ian survivors.

You can learn more and find more resource links here

‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa announced that on Tuesday, October 11, more than 130 guests arrived on-property and are occupying the resort’s 137 accommodations for a to-be-determined extended stay. The guests are part of ARS Global Emergency Management Island Base Camp, a disaster recovery and restoration company that will service public and private properties on both Sanibel and Captiva.  “We couldn’t be more honored and delighted to serve as home base for these vital and talented men and women,” says Doug Babcock, Chief Executive Officer of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts. “These are the heroes who’ll help restore our islands to not only a functional status, but an aesthetic one as well — allowing our businesses here to re-open and recover as quickly as possible." 

Thank you to Tween Waters and so many others in helping our first responders and those working on the full recovery. It takes everyone working together to help in the restoration of our islands of Sanibel and Captiva.  

Housing Need Continues

The biggest need that was an issue even before Hurricane Ian is HOUSING. For the majority of non-profits on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, their staffs are now without a home of their own due to the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian. We put a call out to our “Ding” family asking for help, and a big thanks go to those who have opened their doors to our displaced staff, sent us contacts for possible housing or worked with us to charge affordable More

Photo by Paul McKenney. Help us find a nesting place for our non-profit staffs and their families..  

Lessons from Hurricane Michael being applied to Ian recovery

This ARTICLE talks about the lessons learned from Hurricane Michael and applying them to SW Florida. This process will take a very long time and please be patient as the rebuilding occurs. It takes everyone working together to have the best impact.

Hurricane graphic from Today Show 


The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge has been a part of peoples lives in ways we don't even know. Please use #dingstrong in your social media posts regarding the Refuge, your happy memories or current thoughts. Thank you for caring. 

We are #SanibelStrong' #SanCapStrong and certainly #DingStrong.

Any updates, news, links to resources, or ways to support the Refuge as well as other organizations who are helping island residents directly can be found at dingstrong.org. Everyone has been impacted and please consider supporting those organizations important to you directly via their online giving pages.

Next Week: The DDWS will be sharing some new and improved efforts with our mindfulness programming for kids and adults. Share wonderful news of our Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) team planning to get back out on the road to educate and inspire and so much more!  

Photo by Mike Dougherty of Swallow-tailed Kite

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