From the Desk of Des – “THE REBUILD”
In February 2012, while attending a convention in Naples, Florida, I went to visit a resort client on the Gulf Coast. While standing on the beach in front of the resort I looked up at the property and saw a scene of bustling happy vacationers. They were on the beach, in the pool, playing on the sports court, laying in the sun and generally doing everything vacationers should be doing; resting, recreating and experiencing revitalization.
On August 19, 2004, I had stood in this same place, looking at the resort property and witnessing a scene of horrific devastation. Hurricane Charley had hit the whole area on August 13, a few days prior, and the resort had damage all the way from smashed windows and doors, torn drapes fluttering in the wind, walls inside and out damaged by water surge, all immovable beach equipment destroyed, boat dock destroyed, pool filled with green algae & debris, and a lot more than I can describe here. We had not been allowed to gain access to the property for 6 days after Charley. During that time mold had formed on walls, carpet, & all furniture and was still growing.
From Wikipedia, “Damage in the state totaled to over $13 billion (2004 USD). Charley, initially expected to hit further north in Tampa, caught many Floridians off-guard due to a sudden change in the storm’s track as it approached the state. Throughout the United States, Charley caused 10 deaths and $15.4 billion in damage (2004 USD) making Charley the second costliest hurricane in United States history at the time (it has since dropped to 5th). Charley was a very small very fast moving storm otherwise damage would have been much more severe. Although mitigation and restoration was promised by FEMA to the poor communities of Hardee and DeSoto counties during town meetings, the agency did not pass the cursory planning stages and the promised reconstruction and compensation never happened.”
The resort I was looking at and many of our Florida client resort properties suffered devastating damage from Charley and five other hurricanes that made landfall between 2004 – 2006. Their restoration was uppermost in our plan. It had taken from August 2004 to March of 2005 for the restoration to be completed at this resort with stronger rebuilding, new furniture and decoration. Our client resort property was one of the first properties, including the major hotels on the Gulf Coast, to be back in business.
All of us wish never to be faced with catastrophic damage to our properties, but we must be prepared to deal with it especially in areas where they are known to occur. Our “Rapid Response” program with restoration partners stand ready to help our clients to bring immediate order back to the chaos they may experience from a catastrophic event.
Standing on the Gulf Coast beach in February of 2012, watching vacationers enjoying themselves, gave me a deep sense of satisfaction.
In future articles I will address the first steps to take after a catastrophic event.
Meanwhile, stay safe while at home and away from home.