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'We lost our hotel completely': Fort Myers Beach business owner explains what’s next for island community

Tropical Weather
Posted at 3:49 PM, Oct 12, 2022

Residents and business owners are once again able to return to Fort Myers Beach after first responders briefly shut the island down for rescue and recovery efforts.

“We lost our hotel completely. We lost our beach house. I mean there's nothing left. Nothing,” said Scott Safford, a resident and business owner on Fort Myers Beach. He owns a hotel and a beach house.

Fort Myers Beach residents are now recovering what they can from their homes and businesses among the debris on the island. Hurricane Ian hit the area as a category 4 storm, bringing high winds and storm surge.

“Every day just slopping mud, just toxic stuff that's just disgusting,” said Safford. His business, The Sea Gypsy Inn, was completely destroyed.

“We posted on Facebook, ‘Hey, share your memories’ and people were just pouring pictures out and stories,” he said.

Safford is doing what he can to get his belongings off the island, and help those in need.

“Two of my employees are homeless,” he said.

Right now, he said the community is focused on recovery. Rebuilding will come later.

“It's going to be months and months before we get basic services back on the island,” he said. “When we get that done, then we’re going to talk about rebuilding. We don't even know zoning wise, permitting wise, planning wise what that's going to look like.”

Safford said with supply chain issues, rebuilding could become even more complicated.

“There's so many supply chain issues. Where are you going to get the drywall? Where are you going to get the labor? Where are you gonna get all that? Right now we’ve got a goal for the next three weeks. We’ll see what happens from there,” he said.