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Businesses in SWFL looking to recover after Ian

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Shops and restaurants were severely damaged by Hurricane Ian, and one of the locations hit very badly was Fisherman’s Wharf near Fort Myers Beach.

Business owners in the area are heartbroken watching all the time and energy they put into the businesses literally get washed away. We’ve seen all the damage to peoples’ homes, but businesses are some peoples’ livelihoods.

A business sign fell after Hurricane Ian. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Down by Fisherman’s Wharf, business owners have worked relentlessly to create a culture where people come to eat, drink, and make memories down by the water.

And at this point, they’re working to do whatever they can to pick up the pieces left behind by Hurricane Ian and figure out how to rebuild.

Marty Harrity is a partner for Doc Ford’s/ Dixie Fish Co. and shared some thoughts with WINK News about the situation.

“I think the biggest thing that makes our restaurants is our culture, and our people, and we more than anything else. And that’s what breaks my heart more than I mean, I can buy tables, I can build buildings, but I can’t make good people, you know, I mean, you have to nurture that they have to have certain qualities to be successful in this business,” Harrity said. “And, and that’s what we do. Our culture is phenomenal. And, you know, to keep that together, and how can we help our people like weather the storm here, because it’s devastating.”

What the inside of a former business looks like after Hurricane Ian. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Like many in Southwest Florida, Matt Hanson is in the process of recovering. And a lot falls on Hanson’s shoulders since he is the owner of Salty Sams Marina on Fort Myers Beach.

Tuesday, Hanson told WINK News what the marina looked like after Hurricane Ian passed by.

“Big spaghetti pile of docks, and boats and debris, all kinds of debris that came off of Fort Myers Beach,” Hanson said.

It was that same destruction that Hanson was able to show to Isabella Guzman the Administrator for the Small Business Administration.

“We wanted to make sure that as SBA, we could come in and get a sense of, you know, what the long-term recovery is going to be as well, because we’re uniquely situated as an agency to make sure that we can support in the long end as well,” Guzman said.

Business owners in the area are set to meet with Guzman on Tuesday. They plan to discuss possible financial assistance, but they said it will be difficult to even scratch the surface of what they need to support their employees.