25/04/2024

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People on Fort Myers Beach finding glimmers of hope while rebuilding

3 min read
People on Fort Myers Beach finding glimmers of hope while rebuilding

FORT MYERS BEACH

Fort Myers Beach was one of the hardest hit spots by Hurricane Ian, and the people on the island have worked day and night to rebuild.

More than two months later, things are far from normal, but there are glimmers of hope because many locals and many visitors who thought Fort Myers beach was special before the storm believe the town will be special again.

People on Fort Myers Beach finding glimmers of hope while rebuilding

“There’s a whole block of just nothing but debris that’s been piled up there,” said Thomas McNicholas.

McNicholas comes down to Fort Myers Beach with his wife every December to celebrate his birthday. Despite the destruction, they still came this year to see everything for themselves.

“I would still like to move in this area, right? But it’s the weather, you know, weather brings everybody here, and a lot of this stuff is, you know, the beach, the waters, you know, the golf,” said Thomas McNicholas

Julie Watterson refuses to let the debris stop her from tanning on the beach whenever she can.

“It’s nice to be able to come down and have some businesses open where you can at least like feel like the beach is here. We’re back to having a little bit of paradise show,” Watterson said.

One sign of good things to come is Wahoo Willies. The restaurant was supposed to open up the week Hurricane Ian hit.

“Now, it’s been over two months. And it’s pretty unbelievable how the streets are clear. Now, the beach is actually the people walking up and down on them,” said Peter tennis, co-owner of Wahoo Willies.

Amid the chaos, the people of Fort Myers Beach know how to make their home still feel like home.

“You can go through like the worst devastation you’ve ever seen that you’d think that would be on TV, and the next day, everybody’s still going strong and the way that they’ve rebuilt it as fast as they have,” said Watterson.

The town’s seasonal visitors know how to make it feel like home too.

“We’ve kind of found like a second little. I’ll call it a home even though it’s a vacation spot for us. But to come down here, get a little warm air, have a little bit of fun, and come and see this,” said McNicholas. “There’s a place called wahoo willie’s// and we just had a great lunch there. And within an hour, that place is like. It’s I would say it’s busy, right? It’s a very busy, slammed place already. So you got people coming in support in the community.”

The owner of Wahoo Willie’s is grateful for that support.

“At first, it was tough, because it was really nasty down here. It was, it was horrible. People lost homes, businesses, lives. And the whole starting over was it was tough to come down here every day and have to get, you know, get through it. But someone’s going to open the beach is going to come back. The resilience is unbelievable,” said Ennis.

“Like the hurricane was scary, but it’s not going to chase me away. I love it here. I come to the beach every single day, and I think it’s heaven.” Watterson said.

While people are hitting the beach, no one should go in the water. There are too many hazards along the shore right now, but the gorgeous view is here to enjoy while we wait for Fort Myers Beach to be built back.

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