The devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian on Southwest Florida’s Ft. Myers has triggered action by the Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association to assist those members who have experienced extensive damage.
“I fear that what Southwest Florida is facing is unprecedented, but I’m also sure we will get through it,” said John Good, SWFMIA executive director in reaching out to the organization’s board and members.
“As you have seen,” Good continued, “the coastal areas, as well as areas up the Caloosahatchee River, have been devastated by storm surge and wind. While speaking with one of our board members from Ft. Myers Beach, he was clearly in tears, not for his business, but just talking about the destruction he was seeing. He said Ft. Myers Beach is virtually gone. There is literally not one marina still standing.”
Historic Downtown Ft. Myers, which is on the Caloosahatchee River, was under water from tidal surge. The two downtown marinas, Legacy Harbour and the City Yacht Basin, where the annual Ft. Myers Boat Show is held, were decimated. Accordingly, a review of prospects for staging the big show in November is pending. No decision will be made until additional reviews and discussions are held by the SWFMIA board, according to Good. It is the largest show held annually on Florida’s West Coast and is set to mark its 50th anniversary this year.
Despite the obvious focus on the devastation, Good also shared more positive news with the SWFMIA family. “Most member businesses not on the water are okay,” he emphasized. “Lots of flooding and wind damage, but they’re still intact. And, from what’s been reported, there’s no serious damage to boats on our dealership lots, which is a real blessing.”
“Most I’ve spoken with are amazingly upbeat,” Good continued. “They have taken care of their homes as best they can and are now out helping others to get their businesses up and running as soon as possible.”
“In addition, we have members shuttling supplies to customers and others on Sanibel Island, which was wiped out, including the bridge out to the island. Our marine contractors are assisting with barges and equipment and they are staying in contact with our office,” he added.
Immediately after the storm passed, the SWFMIA staff became totally focused on communicating regularly with members and acting as a liaison for them as needs were identified. Some actions included: locating and sending forklifts and similar equipment to dealers in need; enlisting help from the National Marine Manufacturers Association that has responded to the emergency need for replacement outboards for law enforcement and rescue teams; working with other local community response agencies, among other actions.
“We’re also encourage and seeing other parts of our marine industry step up to help us as specific needs are identified,” says Good, “and we’re grateful for the support from fellow MTAs and so many others.”
Industry members wishing to contact the SWFMIA team and John Good can do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org.