Welcoming back our first full-time resident!

Tayla Thomas, staff member, welcomes back full-time resident Shirley Masuka to Blind Pass Condos

Blind Pass Condominiums staff recently welcomed back their first full-time resident, a major milestone in the property’s continuing recovery from Hurricane Ian damage.

At 93 now, Shirley Masuka has spent nearly a third of her life living here on Sanibel and was thrilled to return to her renovated island home on March 21 after 18 months living with family in Minnesota. Her son Michael accompanied her to Sanibel to assist in getting her settled back in, and Blind Pass Rental Manager Tom Henecker and staff greeted her with a bright bouquet of flowers and welcome balloon and card.

When Hurricane Ian was approaching southwest Florida during the last week of September, 2022, Shirley relocated to a hotel near the RSW Airport. When that location lost power, she evacuated to the Hertz Arena with hundreds of others. The volunteers there were “really, really kind,” she said, remembering the staff there from FEMA and Red Cross who assisted her.

Her family arranged for a flight out as soon as the airport opened, and as she waited in the terminal for her trip to Minneapolis, the home of her daughter, Bonnie and family, she saw some unusual sights out on the tarmac:

“The big helicopters were picking up trucks. That was amazing!” she recalled about rescue efforts to the islands.

Asked what it was like to return to cold northern winters, she seemed to have taken it in stride, commenting that she had 72 inches of snow her first winter and found it quite beautiful. This second winter, with little snow, has been a drab one, however.

After two winters up north, Shirley’s happy to be back on Sanibel.

Shirley and her late husband, John, stayed at several locations on the island before purchasing a condo unit at Blind Pass. John served as treasurer on the Blind Pass Condos Board of Directors, and the two were longtime dedicated volunteers at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. “He just loved this,” said Shirley regarding her husband’s sentiments about Blind Pass and Sanibel Island.

And it’s still her special place, too.