My heart goes out to our families, friends, and neighbors throughout the SWFL region as we face recovery from Hurricane Ian. There are no words to sufficiently express the reactions and emotions we are seeing from the destruction and devastation left in the wake of the catastrophic event.

As all of us continue to take these next steps forward toward recovery and healing, I want to give you an update on Lighthouse of Southwest Florida, our staff, and our activities.

First and foremost, Lighthouse of SWFL staff and board are all safe. I have been in communication with each team member. We are all thankful they are safe in their homes, despite some property damage. Some of our staff continue to wait anxiously for power restoration and/or potable water to their homes.

We are also reaching out to clients to check on their safety and welfare. Program staff have called and texted many clients to inquire about their well-being and to find out what they may need during this time. The stories are heartbreaking, but I am certain we will overcome every challenge facing us.

Our focus is crisis intervention and assisting clients to resolve immediate basic needs. We have already been working in our community to provide supplies to clients. The sweet smile of the little four-year old helping load his favorite snacks from my car into his mom’s wagon will be forever hold a place in my heart. Those small moments are huge gains as we overcome the wrath of Ian.

Over the coming days, we will continue to reach out to clients as we assess the ability and timing to resume vision rehabilitation services and support groups.

Our leadership team has assessed the damage at our office in N. Ft. Myers and taken measures to mitigate further damage. The good news is the interior has no damage – only minor water spots on ceiling tiles where wind blew rain in through a vent. The surge from the Caloosahatchee River did not reach our property.

Outside, we found the aluminum overhang that covered the southwest corner of the building crumpled and collapsed. Staff worked together to remove it, place a tarp on the side of the building, cover gaps where soffit is missing, and clean up the debris on the grounds. Our fleet of vehicles are in place with no damage, except for scratches on the hood of one car from flying debris.

As we reach the one-week mark from hurricane landfall, we are checking the electricity and internet. Electricity has been restored and internet appears to be available at least intermittently. We appreciate the work LCEC has done to repair power poles on W. Mariana Ave.

Each day brings to light new challenges. There is much need in our community right now, and we stand ready to assist where we can and when it is safe to be on the roads. Each day also brings much hope as we hear the stories and witness the resilience of our community. I look forward to announcing soon our return to the building – hopefully within the next week. In the meantime, we are working diligently to provide support remotely.

For those who may need assistance or who need to reach us, you can send an email to info@lighthouseswfl.org as we do have the ability to monitor and respond from that email inbox. Or, please reach out to United Way’s Storm Hotline by dialing 211 for any other storm-related recovery needs you may have at this time.

Our Southwest Florida community is strong and resilient. We WILL rise from this tragedy, but it will take all of us, working together hand-in-hand, to make it happen. I am confident that our network of human services agencies working with United Way, local first responders, government officials, and community partners will rise to the occasion to rebuild lives, homes and businesses.

We'll continue to provide updates on Lighthouse of SWFL activities through our Facebook page and Constant Contact.

Let’s hold each other close as we face each new day.

Together we are #lighthouseswflstrong.

Be well,