A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?
Dade City, Florida, is recovering from Hurricane Michael — one of the costliest on record — though, judging by the number of houses that have flooded and the number of people still living in hotels, the recovery is not complete. As the storm approached, the city opened its doors to residents displaced by the storm and offered shelter to those recovering from Hurricane Irma.
But a small group of wealthy residents remains, protected by a series of high-rises towering above the city, and a handful of homes on top of the high-rises, with the remainder of Dade City still below.
“They’re going to be very high-rise residents for a long time,” said Dade City Mayor Gary Gardner. “Even after the storm passes, they’re going to have to stay there.”
The wealthy residents who have taken advantage of the city’s open arms, and the open door policy with Hurricane Irma, are going to be there for years. The city has begun to put up fences around some of the high-rises, and while the neighborhood looks clean on the outside, Dade City has been flooded by stormwater.
“So far, we’re doing pretty good,” Gardner said.
The floodwaters from last year’s Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Irma are still flowing into the city. Though the homes have been taken down or demolished, the city still owns dozens of them, the majority of which are still worth millions of dollars.
“What’s happened, is there was a lot of property damage, and so now we’re trying to recover and then hopefully develop the property and the homes as much as we can,” Gardner said.
He said that while most people have been very gracious in the last few months, “we’re obviously seeing that more money is involved, and the level of money has gone up.�