When Hurricane Ian leveled Fort Myers Beach on September 28th, the wind and water were so powerful nearly every street sign was dislodged and destroyed. Weeks later colorful hand-made signs began popping up. Eventually the beach residents creating the signs had them up on every street.
Now the signs are the talk of the town.
Interim Town Manager Keith Wilkins thought the signs were so cool that one day when he was riding his bike he took a picture of every one of them and plans to write a book about them.
Thursday on our Facebook page we asked the question; ” As the island rebuilds should the hand-made street signs stay or go?” As you can imagine the response was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the signs. In just a few hours we had over 320 comments.
Sandra K. Ostbye wrote, “These hand painted signs have suddenly become an interesting part of our colorful history. They define exactly what everyone here is hoping to retain after Ian and the resulting massive destruction. They are funky, creative, fun, have an artsy charm.” Jen Mathis also wants them to stay, “Sonething about those signs made me know all was going to be ok…at some point. ” The same goes for Camela Robinson Daniels. “Those signs represent a story of survival and resilience.”
If, in the end, government decides to go against the wishes of the people, and the signs are deemed to be in violation of some code, at the least they should be collected and saved in some historical way on the island with a story about each street written by a resident underneath it.
A street sign may seem like such a small thing in the grand scheme of a complete community rebuild. However, at least for now, they appear to be shining a bright light down every Fort Myers Beach road littered with destruction.
Thanks Tracy (Caper Beach Club manager) for painting that beautiful sign.
Jeff and I helped paint signs last week. The coordinators said it may take a year to two years before official signs are up on the island. So, they are here for a while. Come help paint! Saturday at Matanzas Pass behind the Beach Elementary School. All supplies provided. Wear clothes you don’t care about!
I hope someone is painting one for Sabal Drive. We don not have one yet😕. What a wonderful idea.❤️❤️❤️
Hope Sabal Drive is getting one❤️
Why should the government be the one to decide if the signs stay or go? The Constitution say’s “We the People” are the government.
I say keep them and hang them under the official ones that glow when hit with headlights and are much easier for first responders to see.
This is a great idea!
Those signs are wonderful. I hope they can be recreated EXACTLY like they are with a permanent material. They show the hope and love for the future of FORT MYERS BEACHand also for its inhabitants and friends.
If the hand-painted signs must be removed for any reason, they should stay in place until new “official” signs are posted. As a Board member of the Estero Island Historic Society, I offer the site of the two EIHS historic cottages (161Bay Road, just before Matanzas Pass Preserve) as a location to retain and display the street signs for the public to see. Our Board will discuss this possibility.
Wonderful idea! The signs should be kept and the Historical Society is a great place to preserve them. Or the Library.
New Orleans has a Katrina museum. Why not an Ian museum eventually… where the signs, along with other things could be displayed…maybe also have a memorial to those lost in the same area. Eventually.
Have a fundraiser and let folks bid on them in a silent auction.
Love our special street signs! I’ve lived on the island full time for 22 years. When I returned after 4 months as refugee, I found it challenging to know my location as I drove north on the island. If the signs must be removed, they must also be preserved. Our beautiful library may be interested in giving them a permanent home, where FMB citizens and visitors can view them and read the back story.
That’s a great idea, Esther!
Let the residents have a say!! Those signs are amazing! Besides helping people find their way around the island. It gives the old town charm that needs to be part of the rebuilding! Great job to all who made those signs!! We can’t wait to come back and see them. Stay strong FMB🥰😇
Definitely should be preserved! If FDOT requires something else maybe y’all could keep the hand crafted signs beside them.
Sorry to see that Kim could not find one on Sabal Drive (mid island) during her bike ride last Sunday 3/5/23. I was so hoping the see one. Love our street.
We need to keep some small town charm on the beach and this would be a good start before all the changes begin. 👍
At the very least if by law we need LEGIT signs, we could tack them on below the legit sign on same post. Cool idea making a book of each st and have residents of that street submit either historical stories of the street itself or survival stories.
Totally agree that those signs have added charm and helped out all of us navigate down Estero Blvd . Before it was like a memory test now is this
Mango or maybe not was this Pearl etc. They add a little joy to our ride now.