People and businesses continue to show resiliency, and so much of that is because of how our community has rallied together in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Cape Coral is one of the many places battling back.
When Nakisha Camacho walked into Hair Artisty, the business she owns in Cape Coral, six months ago, the future didn’t seem bright. “I think I was crying every single day, lost our cars, lost my condo. I had to let go of my full staff at the time.”
Six months later. Camacho’s salon in the downtown Cape is thriving. She’s back open for business, serving clients in a completely renovated space.
“I didn’t get help from FEMA or any type of government assistance. So I came in and just used my savings. Redid the salon stations, added a stage to do different types of just education forums, and keep myself going,” said Camacho.
It’s all a part of the resiliency many businesses in the Cape have shown in the weeks and months following Hurricane Ian’s destruction.
Marcela Compel at South Cape Diner said it was not easy. “I was here every day when we were closed for two months, because I figured that was the least I could do [was] help the owner Felix to rebuild the place.”
That hard work paid off. The diner, which had to be gutted from the floor to the roof, is now full of liveliness thanks to community members who continue to support local businesses.
Without them, Marcela said the South Cape Diner might have shut down for good. “It’s still unbelievable that we were able to reopen too, you know, drive up every day and remember how it was when we were coming to work, and we had no walls or anything.”
It’s a blessed feeling she, like many in the Cape, won’t take for granted.
Hair artistry plans to expand next month, opening a new barber supply shop right next door, and South Cape Diner will finally get its last roof repairs done this week.
Aaron and Loraine Allen came to Cape Coral after Hurricane Ian, fearing the worst, finding the worst, and still loving the place.
“We’re just seeing people helping each other out. And, you know, trying to do the right thing,” said Aaron.
Cape Coral’s sense of community drew them in. They bought their home exactly one year before the storm.
“We were going to just rent it out for vacation for a couple of years and then come down and retire,” Loraine said.
They weren’t here when Ian hammered their investment property. They watched the storm’s destruction on the news. “It was heartbreaking,” said Loraine.
When they made their way to the Cape, “Everybody’s life was just on the curb”
They felt everyone’s pain, ignored the endless sea of blue tarps, and made the choice to stay permanently.
“I cried for like the first week, every time we came and went from the house,” Loraine said.
Six months after the hurricane, Lorraine and Aaron’s house is gutted. There wasn’t much worth saving, even if they could get someone to do the work.
“It was very difficult in the beginning to even get people to come out,” said Aaron. “A guy came out to give us an estimate, and he never called me.”
Now they’ve got a construction company ready to help and are hopeful. “This place will come back. Strive again,” said Aaron.
They believe that to be true for the rest of the Cape as well.
Aaron and Loraine said their next-door neighbors will have to completely tear down their home, while their 80-year-old neighbors across the street only just moved back in.
Despite the struggles, the couple said it’s inspiring to see the resiliency and comradery that surrounds them.