Isles of Capri voting precinct open after major Ian damage

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:

Ravaging flood waters and powerful winds during Hurricane Ian destroyed the heart of one Southwest Florida community and their voting process hasn’t been the same since.

But that recently changed – just in time for what is expected to be a historic election year.

Marietta Cox still shudders when she talks about the Isles of Capri in the days and weeks following Ian.

“Oh my gosh, it was like a war zone,” Cox remembers. “Furniture and everything just piled feet high on both sides of the road.”

The entire island flooded, while homes and restaurants were destroyed.

“I still get emotional talking about it because this is my family here,” said Joyce Beatty, the current president of Capri Community Inc., the island’s leadership committee. “It hurt me to see everybody going through such a traumatic time after Ian. Everybody losing everything.”

In the 18 months since Isles of Capri has been restored to a piece of paradise. The wreckage and debris have been removed and homes and businesses have been restored. Healthy, green palm trees and water compliment postcard views. Right in the middle of it all, sits the Isles of Capri community center.

“We’re a big family here and we just helped each other,” Beatty beams, remembering how far the island has come.

At one point during the storm, the entire island was underwater

The community center shines now, but it took on more than a foot of water and suffered catastrophic damage during Ian, barely a month before the 2022 election season.

Matt Crowder was the president of Capri Community Inc. when the storm hit. He says it’s been a long road for the tiny building that acts as the island hub.

“We walked into an interior that was basically devastated,” Crowder winces. “We lost years of corporate records, historical documents, financial documents.”

It took months of rehab and renovations, but for the first time since the storm, the community center returned as a voting precinct in March 2024.

“We had so many volunteers on the island,” Beatty recounts. “Neighbors and friends that helped with everything. Helped with the community center and bringing it back to life.”

It’s no secret that 2024 is expected to be a historic election year, both in Florida and across the country. For voters, being able to vote at a local landmark is about more than convenience: it’s about community strength and pride.

“It’s very heartwarming and exciting to see this happen,” Beatty says. “We’re actually back to normal.”

Before the center reopened, Capri voters were forced to travel to Marco Island to fill out ballots. Its return is expected to boost voter turnout.

“A lot of them don’t like to go off the island, especially this time of year with the traffic,” Beatty admits. “It’ll help people get out and get their vote in. It’s close for everybody.”

“It’s very convenient,” Cox admits, claiming she’ll be busy voting several times across the rest of the year. “I love it, yeah!”

Finally able to make their votes count in the place they call home again.

Many voting precincts damaged during Hurricane Ian are back and operational for the upcoming election season. To find your voting location, follow the appropriate link below.

Click here for Collier County voting locations.

Click here for Lee County voting locations.

Click here for Charlotte County voting locations.

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