Much of Vanderbilt Beach was swallowed in Hurricane Ian’s storm surge.
Wednesday, three months after Ian roared ashore, there is progress.
One neighborhood has gone from destruction to construction.
“We’re looking forward, you know, to getting it rebuilt,” said Maha Ghazzi, of Vanderbilt Beach. “We’re seeing improvement daily, with the cleanup efforts and some of the landscaping coming back. So we’re hopeful that it will come back and be beautiful again.”
Realtor Ryan Schwartz has always pegged this area as the next up and coming beach neighborhood.
He predicted the rebuilding effort will only accelerate the timetable.
“I think we’re gonna see a lot of people rebuilding and, or tearing down and rebuilding. So I think the whole dynamic of the neighborhood is gonna change pretty dramatically,” Schwartz said.
Ghazzi has mixed feelings about that.
This is what Vanderbilt Beach looked like shortly after Hurricane Ian. (CREDIT: WINK News)
“You know, it’s kind of sad to see this happen, but I think in the end, it’s kind of taking one step back two steps forward for the neighborhood,” Ghazzi said.
Ghazzi’s family lived on Vanderbilt Beach six months of the year, every year since she was a child.
Hurricane Ian spared her condo but the storm’s wrath broke her heart.
“You don’t really get to understand the depth of the destruction until you see what’s happening on the ground,” Ghazzi said. “You look around you and, you know, no one ever imagined that this level of destruction could take place.”
Slowly but surely restaurants are reopening and homes and hotels are rebuilding. And people are being reminded once again what makes this area the true gem of Southwest Florida.