Hurricane Ian Recovery Update
Today was another very busy day at the Food Bank. (I’m afraid we are in for a lot of them in the coming weeks.)
- Power was restored at our Fort Myers Distribution Center. Both our main warehouse and offices have power, phones, air conditioning, internet, and good cell service.
- We installed a generator at our Collier County warehouse, which was generously loaned to us by our friends at Feeding South Florida in Miami.
- Crews began repairing our roof. They removed a large amount of debris and tore out structurally unsound sections. Tomorrow, they will complete temporary repairs. Permanent repairs will come later.
- We received 10 truckloads of product. 21 truckloads have been received in the last two days.
- We continued to serve our community. For example:
- We delivered a truckload of product to the Bonita Fire Station and the state Point Of Distribution (POD) in Bonita Springs, which will be used as part of an effort to feed hungry families on barrier islands from Fort Myers Beach to Boca Grande.
- We delivered a truckload of product to the shelter at Hertz Arena. There were over 1,000 families there there since at least last Tuesday, when the storm arrived.
- We responded to several other emergency missions.
- We published a list of available drop-off points for food donations, at our sites and at partner agencies.
- We are responding to an enormous increase in need in our community. Anyone who has seen the horrific pictures and video out of Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Naples, Cape Coral, and other locations, can tell you that we are dealing with the aftermath of a historic storm.
We are responding to immediate needs, while simultaneously planning for the future. We understand the importance of our work and are determined to persevere. We are creating a plan that will enable us to massively expand our impact and activity.
Many people have been displaced and cannot return to their homes. We expect we will need to provide as many as 2.5 million pounds of food per week within the next few weeks and to continue for several months. We are gathering resources nationwide to support us, and looking for local resources to help. Based on our experience during Hurricane Irma and the pandemic, we are confident we can do so.
Please understand, we are not alone in this fight. We have 180 partner organizations who are ready to help us. People are clamoring to donate. They are inundating us with requests to volunteer. They are swamping us with offers of food. The nationwide network of food banks have offered us whatever help we need to serve our battered region.
It would be easy to view the photos and videos of our beleaguered region and despair. To view the devastation in Fort Myers Beach. To see videos of Naples homes under water. To see the shredded trees and toppled buildings in Cape Coral. To conclude that all is lost.
We choose not to do that. We choose hope over despair. We choose to marshal our energy. We choose to rally our team and gather the resources and help that we need. We will meet the needs of our community. We will rebuild, stronger and better than before. We will not give up.
I know that these are big challenges. I know that you have suffered numerous personal challenges. I know that all of you have sustained personal losses, family losses, losses of homes, losses of money, losses of cherished belongings, losses of treasured places in your neighborhoods. Even so, you persevere.
Tomorrow will be a brighter day.
President and CEO
Harry Chapin Food Bank