Fort Myers Beach’s mayor has a five-year plan to rebuild the city

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Fort Myers Beach damage. (Credit: WINK News)

Five years to bounce back. That is the recovery goal for Fort Myers Beach after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Ian.

Homes were swept away, and businesses were destroyed, but Mayor Ray Murphy thinks they can rebuild in five years.

“My mind is already focused on the, on the future, on the redevelopment,” said Murphy.

What used to be a hustling and bustling, full-of-life Times Square is now piles of debris and caved-in businesses.

Murphy said his five-year plan would bring vitality back to the beach.

The first order of business is to bring in a planning firm specializing in rebuilding after natural disasters. Then get the people who call Fort Myers Beach home involved.

“It’s their community, you know, it’s their community, it’s my community,” said Murphy.

For the people who live in Fort Myers Beach, it is more than Times Square. There are the people and places they love, and people and places they lost.

“Our homes broke our hearts, and then to come and see this on top of it is just overwhelming,” said Harper Freight, a Fort Myers Beach resident.

“Local community members cannot fathom losing our tiny piece of paradise,” said Fort Myers Beach resident Melody King.

To some of them, a five-year plan sounds good.

“The mayor says let’s bring it back. Let’s bring it back to what it was like. And that’s what everybody wants to see,” said Rich Deleodo, a Fort Myers Beach resident.

But King, the leader of the Fort Myers Beach Strong movement, said there are more important things to worry about right now.

“I think it has to be a 30,60, 90-day movement. The Fort Myers Beach movement is a commitment to community togetherness. And we have nowhere to gather we have nowhere to mourn the loss of our homes, our best friends, our family members, our animals, the nation’s favorite place to vacation to and live we have nowhere to mourn. So we need the actual mayor, and we need the actual officials to provide us with space to do so,” said King.

The mayor said he understands the need for people to grieve and the need to clear all the debris away, but his said goal is to give people something to look forward to.

In his opinion, that means rebuilding Fort Myers Beach with no high-rises in sight.

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