365 DAYS LATER: Still healing from Ian, but so very blessed
There’s still a lot that hasn’t been said about what happens after a hurricane like Ian. A storm that big, that strong, that stays for that long … it changes people.
Some people simply disappeared afterward … just packed up what they had left and took off. Others mentally processed it the best they could, all while trying to fight insurance companies and salvage what was left of the material possessions they owned. Others became sick or developed nervous tics or OCD issues, some died of a broken heart.
Government statistics show that approximately 150 people died in Florida during Hurricane Ian, but those who were here know better – there were far more. This storm took a toll on the residents that reached far beyond most people’s scope of comprehension.
Now, a year later, many of these people are just now starting to experience life beyond the storm. If this shocks you because it’s an entire year later, it shouldn’t – it is estimated that, just on the island, only about 20 percent of homes that were damaged or destroyed are completely fixed. And, if you asked around of those who were here, you’d find that maybe 10 percent of people would say their minds and hearts have even begun to heal.
We have attempted to combine some Hurricane Ian information in this one-year-later edition, but there’s just too much. In the coming weeks and months we will be covering individual stories of businesses and people who are trying to put their lives back together … we can’t fit it here. Please go to our website, bocabeacon.com, and find our past stories on everything from the amazing debris pickup team (thank you, Gaston!) to the enormous amount of hurricane assistance given by the Boca Grande Disaster Relief Fund and the Boca Grande Woman’s Club. Read about the demise and rebuilding of South Beach Bar & Grille, as well as about the other businesses who are struggling to recover to this day,
The people of Gasparilla Island are made of sturdier stuff than any weather event or manmade disaster. On September 28, 2022 they stood up to a storm that felt like it was orchestrated by the Devil himself, and the very next day started to dig out of the rubble. On Gasparilla Island, this has been the case for generations.
Many who lost everything, helped the most. The days were long, sweaty and hot with no air conditioning and sometimes with no cold water or hot food … not to mention bathrooms or showers. But it didn’t matter.
In late September of 2022, the people of this island, once again, showed everyone what they were made of, and what they could do for themselves, virtually by themselves. They are not only Boca Grande strong … they are the guardian angels of Gasparilla Island.