Gulf of Mexico
Horseshoe Bay waterfront post-hurricane. Many homes that were not elevated were hammered in the storm surge. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

FL - Horseshoe Beach Hopes to Rebuild After Idalia, But Most Had No Flood Insurance

HORSESHOE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — This remote seaside enclave known as “Florida`s Last Frontier” took much of the pounding from Hurricane Idalia when it struck the state`s west coast as a Category 3 storm last week.

The damage left behind in the fishing village of Horseshoe Beach is exposing a gulf between haves and have-nots as cash-strapped residents could be forced to leave the quaint, remote community rivaled by few others along the Florida shoreline.

With emergency crews still working to restore electricity and provide temporary housing, locals worry that those unable to afford insurance will struggle to reconstruct homes that must comply with modern, more expensive building codes. Longtime residents share varying degrees of bullishness that the charm — and business — will return to the quiet town of less than 200 people.

“We have all of old Florida here,” said Tammy Bryan, the song director of First Baptist Church, “and today we feel like it’s been taken away.”


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Horseshoe Beach largely escaped the worst of previous storms that battered the state, but Idalia roared ashore with winds of 125 mph (200 kph) and a storm surge that flattened some houses and knocked others off their foundations and into canals.

When asked at a news conference Sunday whether climate change was to blame for Idalia`s fierceness, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said other more powerful hurricanes had hit the state decades earlier. Climate scientists have said that Gulf waters warmed by climate change helped Idalia intensify rapidly.

“The notion that hurricanes are something new, that`s just false,” said DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. “The notion that somehow, if we just adopt very left-wing policies at the federal level, that somehow we will not have hurricanes, that is just a lie.”

Most residents of Horseshoe Beach cannot afford insurance, according to Jimmy Butler, a realtor who has been doing business in the town since 2000. He predicted that the debris may be cleared in a couple of months but a return to normal will take years.

Idalia is “the worst thing” Horseshoe Beach has ever had to handle, Butler said.

Tina Brotherton, 88, worries that the hurricane will accelerate changes that began with 1993`s so-called Storm of the Century, an unnamed, out-of-season March hurricane that pummeled the Florida Panhandle. A resident of Horseshoe Beach since 1978, she lost her marina and the cafe next door in that disaster and had to replace the floors and beds at Tina`s Dockside Inn.

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