In 1960, Fort Myers Beach stood directly in the eye of Hurricane Donna, a category 5 storm with winds reaching 160 mph. Significant damage was the result, yet incredibly there was no loss of life on Estero Island.
Category 4 Hurricane Charley in 2004 locally didn't hit as hard, but the fallout was in many ways worse. What happened is the island was closed off for five days and chaos ensued as law enforcement and the National Guard turned irate residents away.
"People were very upset, because they wanted to get back to their homes for a variety of reasons, but the island was way too dangerous," said John Kakatsch, owner of many rental properties on the island. "Power lines were down all over the place. The town manager took the blame - blame she didn't deserve."
Had residents been better prepared and had a re-entry process been in place, much of that could have been eliminated.
Don Stilwell, the current Fort Myers Beach town manager, is reminding residents to be active covering both ends of the hurricane preparedness spectrum as the season fast approaches.
"I know we haven't had one in years, don't blow off these measures," Stilwell said. "It's better to be prepared than to just be hopeful. The downside is just too great. Realize how serious this is."
The town's emergency plan is available at:
The re-entry application is available at: www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/3403.
FMB Hurricane Preparedness Re-Entry Pass
In advance of each hurricane season, the town of Fort Myers Beach issues hurricane re-entry passes to islanders and to island businesses. The purpose of these passes is to expedite re-entry to Estero Island once a mandatory evacuation order has been lifted. This service is provided to islanders free of charge, however registration and annual renewal is required.
To get an online application, go to: www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/3403
Once you acquire an application, follow the steps provided:
1. Complete the application, including your signature and date.
2. Be sure to include your pass(es) number on the application, if this is a renewal, to insure that the database can be kept current. This will also assist us in replacing a lost or stolen pass.
3. For your convenience you can:
a. drop off the application and supporting information at Town Hall, located at 2525 Estero Blvd.;
b. fax the application and supporting information to 239-765-0909;
c. mail the application and supporting information to: Town of Fort Myers Beach, 2525 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
d. e-mail application and supporting information to Pass@fortmyersbeachfl.gov
(When using one of these methods above, please allow for adequate time to process the application and mail the pass. Please provide a mailing address if it is other than the local addresses required on the application.)
4. You can also go this route:
a. process your application at one of the designated re-entry pass locations. The locations, dates and times will be posted each year on the town's website and at Town Hall.
Please be certain to include or bring with you all requested information when submitting the application. Your application can not be processed without the required supporting information.
5. Re-entry passes are property of the town of Fort Myers Beach. The town has authority to deny issue or repeal issued pass from anyone for reasons of providing false information.
6. A fee will be assessed for lost or stolen replacement passes.
1st Replacement- $5.
2nd Replacement- $20.
7. Passes are non transferrable.
- To register, please provide the following:
1. State issued photo identification (i.e.: Driver's License, Passport, Government issued ID).
2. Proof of Residency: Tax bill or Deed for property owners; current lease or letter from landlord and current utility bill for renters. (Max 2 Issued)
3. Businesses: Current tax bill or occupational license. (Max 3 Issued)
4. Property Managers: Property Managers License and list of properties managed. (1 pass per 5 properties managed, Max 5 Issued)
- Passes should be hung on the rearview mirror or placed on driver's side dashboard.
-Source: Town of Fort Myers Beach website, www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov