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Times of the Islands Magazine

Where We Go from Here

Nov 16, 2022 10:08AM ● By Daniela Jaeger

I have no doubt that many of you are still picking up the pieces of your lives after Hurricane Ian ripped through our beautiful Southwest Florida on September 28. Eight days later, while people in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and all of our five-county region were still dealing with flooded roads and neighborhoods, a temporary bridge was constructed to Pine Island and cleanup had begun on Fort Myers Beach. We’re good at bouncing back.

On Wednesday, October 5, Governor DeSantis toured Sanibel—where I live and where TOTI Media is headquartered—which had been cut off from the mainland by numerous breaches along the Sanibel Causeway. While there, he said there was “more debris, I think, on Sanibel than anyplace I’ve seen thus far. I saw more damage to the power infrastructure on Sanibel than anywhere that I’ve seen, and maybe even more than Fort Myers Beach. I saw concrete utility poles snapped in half.” At that time, the governor told of plans to construct a temporary bridge to Sanibel Island that would make it accessible by the end of October. The repairs were made even faster than anticipated, and by mid-month, we were able to drive onto the island.

If I can think of one word to describe Southwest Floridians, it’s resilient. We’ve been through an awful lot during the past six years: red tide that damaged our tourism, hurricane Irma in 2017, the Covid-19 pandemic, and now hurricane Ian. And those are just the things we shared as a community. Like me, I’m sure you’ve also had your share of personal and family problems while coping with these other life-altering events.

During Ian, I was with my husband in Germany, recovering from a major shoulder operation. Then, a week before Ian hit, I got the sad news that my mother had suddenly passed away, and we quickly had to go to Scotland for her funeral. Needless to say, our stress levels were off the charts, watching the news from a great distance and wondering if anything would be left of our home and business when we finally did get back to Southwest Florida.

As all these traumas were happening, I leaned on my faith and kept reminding myself that as human beings we are made to be resilient. We can take a lot of hits. We bounce back even when there doesn’t seem to be much hope. We find ways when we don’t see any. We get creative when we’re backed into a corner. We get knocked down, but we get right back up and keep fighting.

Those things made it a little easier for me during those dreaded “down days” when things seemed hopeless. What do you do when you’ve lost so much? You dig up your hope, and you keep moving forward. That’s what we do as humans, and that’s what we’ve shown the world we do as Southwest Floridians.

Today, when I ask myself, “Where do we go from here?” I still don’t have many good answers. I imagine it’s going to take quite some time for all of us to put our lives back together again after Ian. So many businesses and homes have been lost. And my prayers go out to all the families who have lost a loved one. What are our battered islands even going to look like? It’s too hard to think past today, so we push on—one day at a time.

Please know, dear reader, that TOTI Media is still here and still with you. Though our format will have to change, our dedication to the people and businesses of Southwest Florida will not. We want to continue being a source of information and enjoyment, working alongside our friends and neighbors and supporting our wonderful and resilient communities.

Where do we go from here? We go forward! Oh, we might have to trudge—through water, mud, sand, debris, doubt, heartbreak, and tears. But at the end of the trudging, there is stability, a clear path, strength, joy, and growth. Let us keep up that Floridian resilience!

Thank you to all the first responders in SWFL who continue to show courage and perseverance in helping our area to recover.

And thank you to the TOTI Media team, our loyal advertisers, and subscribers.

Because of you, we are still here.   

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Daniela J. Jaeger
Group Publisher, TOTI Media