Pictures from Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, Florida

-post Hurricane Charley

Pictures from Sanibel Island

and Captiva Island

11/21/04 - update

Both Sanibel and Captiva are looking much better! A car tour of the islands, a visit to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a walk at the Sanibel Lighthouse area and lunch at Captiva's famed Bubble Room shows that there is still charm in these islands. Most of the debris is gone and while cleanup efforts and rebuilding continues, it is no longer interrupting the ebb and flow of life on the islands. Actually, we think we are quite fond of the new look. Gone are many of the raggedy Australian Pines and much of the native vegetation now can be seen from the roadways and in public areas. Beautiful, even if storm-pruned, Gumbo Limbo trees, Seagrape and Sabal Palms highlight the road tours.



Sanibel and Captiva are now accessible. However, many businesses were hit hard and services may be limited. As of the end of September, when these photos were taken, places to eat and stay overnight were hard to come by. While most of the roads were passable, there was almost no where to go because rebuilding and cleanup efforts were still continuing at the major parks, attractions, restaurants, motels and other facilities. There are reports of a late 2005 opening of South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island.

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On the August, 2004 morning of Friday the 13th, visitors and residents of Sanibel and Captiva were pondering their fate as Hurricane Charley churned northward through the Gulf of Mexico. Basically following the center of the track charted by the National Hurricane Center, the storm was far out to sea. The Southwest Florida barrier islands were appearing safe, merely at the outer edges of the wider forecast track. It was a smallish storm at the time and if it maintained course it would stay well offshore and the islands would sustain negligible damage. 


Between 1:00 and 1:30 PM people on the islands began to realize their destiny for Friday the 13th. As Hurricane Charley abruptly  turned eastward and steamed towards the Southwest Florida coast, the alerts were sounded. With approximately 90 minutes before landfall, there was no place to go - no place to hide. Growing to a Category 4 storm with sustained winds in the 140 MPH range, Hurricane Charley ploughed ashore with the center and some of the strongest possible winds tearing at Captiva.


By 5 PM the big blows were over and as residents and visitors peeped out from hiding places, they began to glimpse the damage wrought by Charley: Devastation! Years, generations, maybe centuries worth of horticultural growth lay strewn in the powerful storm's path. Some of the best of man's creations, standing for decades and more, were torn apart and now littered the islands. Roads were impassible; power, water and other utility services were out; floodwaters presaged more damage.


The storm's vestiges of rain and high winds were still apparent and threatening. The worst was over though and even in their excited, anxious relief everyone understood the end of an era had come. Sanibel and Captiva would never look the same; maybe never "feel" the same. Hurricane Charley had culled out the weak, the wrong and the feeble and in its place man and nature had to rebuild.


View pictures from Sanibel or Captiva before the storm.


Pictures from Sanibel Island, Florida. Photos copyright.


Sanibel Island - 9/25/04

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Sign says it all.

Scene of devastation at public access to Sanibel Beach.

 Lonely stroll along the shore.
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On a pretty day it's still fun to visit Sanibel Beach. Not many are taking the opportunity, though.

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Debris still littered the parking lots and streets in front of many condos 6 weeks after Hurricane Charley. This condo used to be hidden by the dense growth.
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This condo (upper left) appeared uninhabited and many of the screens of the lanai areas had been ripped (upper right).

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The entrance to the Lighthouse Point area was closed as crews feverishly worked to cut and clear dangerous trees and limbs.

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    Sanibel Playhouse

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Norfork Island Pines did not do well - left standing were partially or wholly denuded.

Power poles were snapped, power lines downed and many had to be replaced before electric services were restored.

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The pictures above and below show street scenes around Sanibel after Hurricane Charley. Hardly recognizable to casual visitors and residents alike, Sanibel took a hard hit from Charley.

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Scenes of trucks hauling horticultural debris.


Captiva Island

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The Bubble Room under plywood.

Fallen tree on the wall of The Bubble Room (upper left).

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The pictures above and below show damage from an unmerciful Hurricane Charley.

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Before and After

captiva-roadway-old.JPG (35342 bytes) The idyllic tour through Captiva Island along Captiva Drive (picture at left) used to "captivate" imaginations. Automobiles navigated a narrow strip of asphalt from Blind Pass at the southern tip of Captiva to the entrance of South Seas Plantation at the northern end through a lush landscape of semi-tropical plants and under a canopy of tall trees. Generations of residents and visitors never saw many of the luxuriant seaside and bayside estates that existed beyond the edge of the roadway, hidden from prying eyes that tried to follow the twisting, curling driveways through the heavy undergrowth.

Road through Captiva Island before Hurricane Charley

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The drive through Captiva Island after Hurricane Charley now looks like this...




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