It’s been a few months since my last trip to Pine Island. Every time I visit one of Southwest Florida barrier islands I still hold my breath, wondering what things are going to look like. What is still standing and what has been razed due to too much hurricane damage. It’s nice to see the piles of debris cleaned up. Hopeful. However, those wide open beaches and lots are also a cruel reminder that someone’s home or business once stood there. The island is showing great signs of recovery but there is still a long way to go as evidence by these heartbreaking photos of Matlacha 17 months after Hurricane Ian.
The bridge crossing from Cape Coral to Pine Island is still undergoing repairs and can get congested. Matlacha is the community that welcomes visitors to the island. It is small, on a narrow strip of land that is a haven for both artists and fishermen. It has an eclectic, funky vibe with brightly colored homes and businesses. Cottages full of upscale art share the island with dive bars full of shrimpers and everything in between. It is uniquely Florida and people love it.
What’s happening on Matlacha and Pine Island
I did not venture onto the rest of Pine Island this trip but was told it is in various stages of repair also. Part of the problem with rebuilding much of Matlacha is the fact that many structures were on land that eroded and were washed away by the hurricane. Not to mention the bureaucracy of insurance and government that so many hurricane survivors are all too familiar with.
If you go to Matlacha, many of the shops and galleries have reopened. For dining, The Perfect Cup is open and so is Blue Dog Bar and Grill. Further into Pine Island, The Lazy Flamingo and Tarpon Lodge are also open for dining. I was at the lodge over the summer and here are some photos I took from the drive out. You can see not all is gloom and doom.
Here is an update. Check out there photos of Matlacha 17 months after Hurricane Ian. Take a drive and visit the businesses that are open if you can.