A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?
Sandy Dutcher is working at the Port of Tampa to help rebuild after Hurricane Irma. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
After a couple of weeks of getting used to life after Hurricane Irma’s devastation, Sandy Dutcher, who works at the Port of Tampa, is starting to get excited about life. She’s starting to put away the boxes she was helping to carry after Irma, and is now in the process of starting her own home-and-business inventory.
“It’s weird to be excited about something you can’t control,” Dutcher said as she surveyed the destruction and cleanup in her neighborhood.
After Irma, Dutcher moved to the Port of Tampa, a tiny town of 4,600 people that sits on the Gulf of Mexico in east central Florida. She was in line at the grocery store when she was reminded that Sandy does not live in Tampa.
“That really made [me think] that I definitely didn’t want to move back to Tampa,” said Dutcher, who is 26 and works as a sales representative. “It’s beautiful, but what I found is that people like it because it’s not the flash.”
Dutcher and a friend recently bought a trailer in a park next to her work, and she plans to build a house from scratch. But for now, she’s glad to be away from the madness of city life in her hometown, where her family still lives.
“I definitely miss the noise,” Dutcher said. “But I love the quiet, too.”
The town is trying to rebuild.
The residents Dutcher spoke with said they would rather rebuild in a more secluded area away from the big city.
Tallahassee is the next closest large city, which is 70 miles away, and it is not much smaller than Tampa,