Hurricane Ian Recovery and Updates
Our hearts are with all of our island friends and neighbors, along with the entire Southwest Florida community, as we navigate the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian. As images and news reports regarding the condition of our barrier islands and the entire state of Florida emerge, we are all in shock. Life after the storm is trying and emotional for everyone. Our communities, staff, and "Ding" family move forward in unprecedented times. As we work together to get through these difficult times, we remain hopeful of the future of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Together we will rebuild our community and come back stronger than ever.
Status of J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
All Refuge staff and interns are safe and unharmed. Refuge Project Leader Kevin Godsea continues to be in direct communication with the city, state, and Lee County. An Incident Command Post has been set up on the island, and he is working with the FWS, FWC, and other institutions to bring on necessary equipment, such as gasoline, jeeps, tools, etc. The Refuge has sustained considerable damage, but nothing that can't be repaired. USFWS staff continues to work directly in helping the island clear roads, cut trees for safety, and more.
As Refuge staff continues to assess the more than 7,000-acre land and water mass within the Lee County Refuge area, along with Refuge complex holdings in the Everglades, reports of damage are generalized.
Serious impacts to vegetation, boardwalks, observation decks, and the solar panels and other Visitor & Education Center roofing have been reported. The lack of power and limited effectiveness of generators have meant no air-conditioning and issues inherent with humidity and dampness. The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society (DDWS) office was submerged by storm surge, estimated at around 5 feet, and ruined. Intern housing has been rendered unlivable, and the maintenance area experienced extensive damage. Full assessment of complete damage will take much more time, and we are unable to release any other specifics. Thank you for understanding. Further inquiries should be directed to USFWS.
The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge has been a part of people's lives in ways we don't even know. Please use #dingstrong in your social media posts regarding the Refuge, your happy memories, or current thoughts. Thank you for caring. We are #SanibelStrong and certainly #DingStrong.