By Barb Hansen
A while back a category four weedwacker named Charley raced over Southwest Florida’s beautiful barrier islands and the picturesque waterfront communities around Charlotte Harbor.
I’ll remember Charley as the storm that made me proud of my fellow citizens who leaped to help their friends, neighbors and strangers in a jam.
I’d say it took about one day, maybe two, for everybody here to dedicate themselves to restoring their homes, businesses, and municipalities. Insurance helped, as it was supposed to. Governments, too. But in my opinion the collective can-do human spirit here made all the difference.
Southwest Florida has a lot of that can-do spirit, as well as water, sunsets, scenery and exceptionally good weather (with exceptions like Charley). It all fuels our number one claim to fame – tourism.
Boaters get the best view in my opinion. So it is with pleasure that we announce that proprietors of the waterfront services for our visitors – restaurants, marinas, resorts, inns, parks, tackle and bait shops – have put their places back into shape (and then some) and have reopened for business with a smile.
By the numbers of dolphins, manatees, and birds I judge that the natural areas are fully restored as well. I’m told that a storm like Charley actually helps rebuild wildlife habitats.
Don’t take my word for it. Power Cruising magazine’s editors cruised our paradise recently and have proclaimed that all is very well and good along our sheltered cruising corridors. Editor Pierce Hoover’s article, Surveying the Sound – A Return Visit to One of America’s Coastal Cruising Grounds, is in the November issue.
Pierce puts his “A-OK” stamp on all of our favorite ports of call -- Burnt Store Marina, Useppa Island Club, Boca Grande Marina, Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa State Park, SouthSeas Island Resort and Yacht Harbor, ‘Tween Waters Inn.
Google spent $1.6 billion on YouTube, an investment in the future of the Internet. They’re betting that millions of pairs of demographically desirable eyeballs will stay glued to videos on the World Wide Web. Maybe. Or will Google’s desirable demographic of a certain age get bug-eyed staring at a computer screen and decide they prefer real world views, not simulated views?
The people of Southwest Florida invested in the future too and have spent many times over what Google spent. We’re betting that demographically desirable human bodies (not just their eyeballs) will return for real life scenes like dolphins surfing their bow wave, a family of manatees coming by their boat to say hello, and glowing Gulf of Mexico sunsets.
Wall Street talks about companies reinventing themselves. Well Southwest Florida does not need to reinvent itself. It is what it is, what it was, and what it will be -- a blessed intersection of earth, water, and climate. Our waterfront reconstruction renaissance just makes it that much easier to enjoy.