Businesses opening on Sanibel and Captiva after Hurricane Ian

Published: November 28, 2022 5:37 PM EST
Updated: November 30, 2022 6:55 AM EST

Business owners on Sanibel and Captiva are finally able to open their doors which is some great news they’ve waited a while to hear.

Two months after Hurricane Ian hit Sanibel and Captiva Islands, many people would describe the areas as a wasteland causing multiple places to close.

Some of the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian on Sanibel. CREDIT: WINK News

Matt Asen, the owner of The Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market, grieves the loss of his customers.

“This is beyond anything that’s ever happened here. Or, you know, pretty much Florida,” Asen said.

The Timbers. CREDIT: WINK News

Asen also feels the pain and empathizes with the business owners around him who lost everything.

“It’s tough. It’s just coming on out. It’s very depressing. And then, if you think about the future, it’s very depressing. So I don’t think about it,” Asen said.

Asen has owned Timbers, a popular spot on Sanibel, for 44 years.

Timbers was built 10 feet above ground level, which is 4 feet higher than the water that surged the streets of Sanibel.

Hurricane Ian was strong, but the structure held its ground even though the roof was blown off.

“Shingles got blown off, and we got rain damage the week after the hurricane,” Asen said.

Asen explained to WINK News his next steps are not too tedious because his team will replace ceiling tiles, rip out the carpet, and clean the parking lot.

A business damaged by Hurricane Ian on Sanibel. CREDIT: WINK New

But the hard part is getting customers back inside Timbers. Asen’s eyes filled with tears when he talked about the area returning to normal.

Checkpoints near the Sanibel Causeway limit cars coming onto the island, so there will be fewer customers, but Asen believes in building a new normal.

“Well, Thanksgiving weekend. Like last year, we would do 1000 meals between the timbers and the Sanibel grill on Thanksgiving Day because we open early. And this year, we did zero,” Asen said.

The City of Sanibel announced Brick-and-Mortar businesses on the island may bring employees back through a process to limit cars through carpooling.

It’s another obstacle business owners must deal with in returning to normal.

Asen told WINK News he knows the city is doing it’s best but can’t wait to have all his customers back.