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Mike’s Musings: My childhood playground destroyed by Ian

It was with great sadness that I viewed the videos and photos of the destruction to Fort Myers Beach caused by Hurricane Ian. I had spent many days of my youth and young adulthood enjoying the weather and beaches of this quaint little island. My parents owned a condominium mid-island, and I remember fondly visiting the beaches, playing golf on the small island course, and of course, partaking in the local restaurant and nightlife scene.
That unfortunately was a long time ago. I haven’t been to Fort Myers Beach in 30 years. But my younger brother and his wife own a rental house on the island, or at least they did until Ian, and he said not a lot has changed from the idyllic island I remember.
Ian however changed all of that. The Category 4 hurricane packing winds up to 140 miles per hour pretty much decimated the island. The portion of the island where the pier juts out and most of the restaurants and trinket shops are located was completely leveled. The pier which stood proudly for decade after decade, did not withstand the storm surge and like the buildings around it, sank into the stormy gulf seas.
Nearby Sanibel Island, very exclusive and known for its white sandy beaches, suffered a similar fate. The causeway to the island split in two making it impossible for residents to leave or return to the posh island by car. Stranded residents had to be airlifted by helicopter.
My brother, who lives most of the year in Michigan, could only view the aftermath of the storm through drone photos. He originally thought his home had escaped but later learned the destructive Ian and the storm surge the hurricane created had pretty much destroyed half his home.
My brother will be all right. He has a knack for building structures and is also an electrician. He will be able to rebuild, and his island oasis will be nicer than ever.
Others however won’t be as lucky. Much of the island’s housing stock is dated, and I would guess owned by the elderly who neither have the money or insurance to recover their losses. Many had to leave quickly without being able to take their memories with them. They will return to those memories having been destroyed and washed away.
If you can spare a few dollars I would be humbled if you sent it to the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse or another relief organization providing funds for the residents of Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, Bonita Beach and other barrier islands that were in harms way of Ian.
We need to take care of our own. Those left displaced in the wake of Ian, including residents of South Carolina and Puerto Rico deserve our help, in my opinion, much more than the people of Ukraine. Believe me, I’m not minimizing what is happening in Ukraine, I simply believe we need to take care of the citizens of the U.S. first.
I’m confident Fort Myers Beach will return, but it will take time and money. We Americans are a resilient lot, but some of us need help more than others. I hope those in need, can get that help.

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