This is an independent group of community volunteers who started to meet after Hurricane Charley in 2004 to improve preparation for a storm and to improve communications before, during and after a storm.
We are dedicated to providing communication to the widespread Captiva community and
be your resource for information before a storm and help direct you to Lee County EOC
and The Captiva Fire Department during and after a storm
Captiva Fire Chief Jeff Pawul
Lee County Sheriff's Lieutenant Mike Sawicki
Phyllis and Ron Gibson
Doris Holzheimer, Emeritus
Captiva's Hurricane Preparation & Response Committee History
Guest Editorial - Captiva Current
by Michael Mullins
Within hours of Hurricane Charley's punishing barrage on Captiva, Captivans were already organizing their citizen response. Beth Odén and I were exchanging emails with some still on Captiva to share important real time data on the effects of this hurricane and its ramifications to Captivans. The web site Sancapsurvivescharley.com was created by Lisbeth and quickly drew hundreds, then thousands of "hits." The Internet based coverage encompassed diverse aspects of the hurricane's effects which proved uniquely valuable to Captiva homeowners, visitors and many who earned their livelihoods on Captiva and Sanibel. Beth's site carried photos, on the ground reports and breaking news items of import to those of us hoping to return to our beloved Captiva as soon as possible. Beth knew the difference between Captiva and North Captiva, a fact lost on the media for months, even years, to come.
Captivans returning to SW Fl. and the off-island evacuees gathered frequently at the Bell Tower Holiday Inn to reconnoiter. The idea of a voluntary hurricane committee was born of this too evident need to communicate, cooperate and collaborate in our mutual protection. That group evolved into what is now known as the Captiva Hurricane Preparation & Response Committee, Doris Holzheimer is the Chairperson and a founder.
Captiva professional organizations, well prepared to act, included first responders: the Sheriff’s dept., led by (then Sgt.) now Lt. Joe Poppalardo and the CIFD, led by Chief John Bates. Both organizations performed admirably and went above and beyond in serving the interests of the public and protecting the lives and property on Captiva. Still, more was needed to sate our appetites for information and to coordinate our reaction to this catastrophic event.
Necessity being the mother of invention, the obvious and not so obvious requirements for solutions to various and spontaneous needs brought about by Hurricane Charley helped define the eventual Captiva Hurricane Preparation & Response Committee. The need for Captiva specific information gave birth to Lisbeth Odén's SanCapSurvivesCharley.com web site (later succeeded by www.Mycaptiva.info). Informal telephone trees sprung up with abandon as Captivans desperately sought any and all possible sources of information and help. Organizing a group of contractors and others to perform home inspections became of paramount importance before officials could let Captivans return to their homes and many island contractors rose to the occasion. People like Larry Hahn, Donna Casella and I organized a convoy to visit our County Commissioners in downtown Ft. Myers; we went seeking help. Commissioners Janes and Judah facilitated a Captiva specific liaison (Holly Schwartz) who gave us access within the Lee County Emergency Operations Center (Lee EOC); Karen Ryan of LCEC was an invaluable interface with our electric cooperative. When the power returned within weeks of the hurricane, Karen Ryan called me personally to let me know Captiva had power again. My generator had to be turned off for me to know for sure.
The common theme in all these activities is spontaneity. Given the thousands of lives on Captiva at any given time and the almost $1.5 billion in property values of Captiva homes and businesses, more than spontaneous reaction was obviously needed. Within days of the event, neighbors were helping neighbors; homes, food, water, ice, even electricity were shared generously by those who had it to share. At times members of a dozen different families slept and ate at my house simply because I had a generator, therefore A/C and, yes, a roof. Doris Holzheimer, Gordon Hullar, and many others worked tirelessly clearing the mess and then joined to cook and socialize with other Captivans before going back to the same routine day after day. Jim and Kathleen Mazzotta, owners of Jungle Drums, delivered mail and mangoes from town on their daily runs to Captiva. This spontaneous reaction to an unexpected event was the genesis of the idea for the Captiva Hurricane Preparation & Response Committee the need for proactive measures was being defined.
Some said this needed to be a CCA committee and still others felt it needed to be a Panel committee. But Doris was adamant from the beginning: the Captiva Hurricane Preparation & Response Committee needed to remain apolitical. She could not have been more correct, as this enabled the committee to welcome participation from all avenues without the insinuation of political competition. Subsequently, funding and participation came from the Panel, and still other participation from the CCA, but the idea of autonomy has always been maintained by the Captiva Hurricane Preparation & Response Committee. Yet, many Captivans miss that this autonomous group exists and works tirelessly for their protection; most remain unaware of the need for funding support. Indifference is the main obstruction, but uncertainty of the need is equally at fault. How close did we just come with TS Fay? While we watched, our silent and under appreciated protectors worked. Captiva has been named a "storm ready" community, but few know this.
The planning with Lee County Commissioner Janes, Lee EOC, CIFD, Lee County Sherrif's office, South Seas Security Director Steve Pasquale, Sanibel, weather channels, Red Cross, Salvation Army, NOAA, and with other Captiva organizations such as the Panel, CCA, CIYC, and so many other parties is just a small part of the requisite coordination. Captiva had to form and train Structural Safety Inspection (SSI) teams to complete damage assessments. This requires training and coordination. Drills are run periodically with the CIFD and Sherriff's Officers to provide orientation for the SSI inspectors. Captivans meet for many hours throughout the year, fund a web site (www.mycaptiva.info), email myriad organizations to keep them in the loop and work tirelessly to better prepare Captiva for the nuanced needs that may not be able to be met by first responders alone. Captiva has no local government to provide the needs, Lee County is a great help and have been more than cooperative, yet the needs of the rest of Lee County are not always the same as the needs of Captiva.
Captivans can and should make tax deductible donations to the Captiva Community Panel, specifically earmarked as restricted to the Captiva Hurricane Preparation & Response Committee. Your help is needed, give generously. It is in our own self interest to make donations, as there is hardly a better investment you can make given the eventuality of storms.
Visit www.mycaptiva.info , visit often, donate, donate generously. Our volunteers cannot make do without your support!