Islanders do what they do best when it comes to establishing emergency communications … they do it on their own
July 27, 2023
By Marcy Shortuse
When the winds died down on September 29, about 12 hours after they began, there was a lot of work to be done on Gasparilla Island. There were people to check on, roads to assess and to clear, wires down to deal with and much more. Our island first responders have been through this before and can triage the situation to formulate a plan of action quickly … but there was one problem.
There was no way to communicate. Telephone lines were down and our cell tower was destroyed.
What that toppled cellphone tower took away was much more than the ability to chat, surf the web and text. It took away the ability for first responders to interact with each other – agency to agency – to perform the work that is required after a storm of the magnitude of Ian. Much of it is life-saving work, and the inability to do it was deeply disturbing. To this day – 10 months later – there are people on this island who need the immediate ability to communicate to stay alive, and they do not have it.