Author: Logan

St. Petersburg is a Test Case of What a Community Can Do When It’s Hit by a Storm

St. Petersburg is a Test Case of What a Community Can Do When It's Hit by a Storm

After Hurricane Ian, a low-lying Florida city starts to rebuild. Should it?

It’s September 2005, and a full year after Hurricane Andrew flattened St. Petersburg two times — in 1992 and 1996. The city has rebuilt but still faces the challenges of dealing with its contaminated beaches and a decaying residential area on the waterfront called “the Isle.” Both areas are slated to be redeveloped, adding to the city’s growing list of projects.

At the height of the storm, the St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue Department was sent to take care of some 30,000 people who were left without power for days. Then, with the help of a volunteer group called the Citizens Against Hurricane Andrew, the city put together a $25.5 million grant to help pay for cleanup and reconstruction. With the help of the city of St. Petersburg, the state of Florida, FEMA, and other agencies, the city is now working on a $20 million to $25 million plan for rebuilding the area.

The city may be a test case of what a community can accomplish when it has the good fortune of being hit by a storm that brings a lot of relief. But even if the city gets its reconstruction plans off the ground, there are still problems to overcome, and the new infrastructure won’t necessarily fix what’s wrong with the area. To start the process of rebuilding a community, officials will need to find a way to convince the neighborhood’s residents that what’s happened in the past is not the case.

For at least the next six months, when Hurricane Ian hits Tampa, it could be as if St. Petersburg never existed. The city will be hit hard, as it is with other Florida cities. Here in Tampa, an estimated 90 percent of the city will be without power, and more than 700,000 residents will lose homes and businesses. To keep residents from fleeing, some city officials will soon begin relocating more than 3,000 people, mostly from the northern part of the city and east of the Hillsborough River.

Despite these challenges, the city is confident it will be successful. “We’ll be fine,” says City Manager Kevin Davis. “People need to understand — no matter how

Leave a Comment