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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge at Sanibel Island, Florida, Closed Due to Flooding and Damage from Hurricane Charley


August 14, 2004

Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291, cell: (678) 296-6400


J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge at Sanibel Island, Fl. is closed due to flooding and damage from Hurricane Charley. All U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel in the path of the hurricane in Florida have been accounted for and are unhurt. Damage assessment, physical security and recovery operations teams are en route to the area now. Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, west of Daytona Beach, Fl. is also closed due to flooding and downed trees, but expected to reopen soon.

Initial reports indicate large numbers of trees have been blown down, blocking roads and gates at the refuge. Wind and flooding have damaged buildings, housing, and utility buildings. The Service will be conducting aerial reconnaissance of Federal manatee speed zone signs throughout peninsular Florida to insure boater and navigational safety. Impacts on wildlife will be assessed following immediate recovery operations. Probable impacts may include wind and flooding damage to mangrove habitat, loss of threatened and endangered sea turtle nests destroyed by coastal erosion from the storm surge, and possible manatee mortality.

In addition, Service law enforcement officers have been deployed to assist the local police departments in Sanibel and Captiva and secure federal assets. Service crews have been dispatched to help recover from the effects of the hurricane from several nearby refuges which received only light damage. Additional personnel have been dispatched from other states to operate heavy equipment, chainsaws, and other specialized equipment and refueling vehicles and aircraft.

Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.

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