Author: Logan

The Firefighters of Boca Grande are helping the state of Florida rebuild

The Firefighters of Boca Grande are helping the state of Florida rebuild

A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?

The small town of Boca Grande, on the southern coast of Florida, was evacuated when Hurricane Irma bore down on the state last September.

A lot of people left, but a small number remained. Their homes and cars had been washed away, but they remained, a few days later, as they had survived Irma. They weren’t there to rebuild.

They were there for a reason: Boca Grande, and the town that was the place where it all began: Boca Grande State Park. Boca Grande has never had a large population, but its town square is as busy as any in Florida. A few months after Irma, Boca Grande was full of people.

They could have been vacationers. Or they could have been volunteers working on Boca Grande’s restoration. But they’re not tourists. They’re not volunteers, but local citizens working on behalf of the state.

“We are the state’s employees,” says Tim Tinkham, a retired Boca Grande firefighter and a volunteer with the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

It isn’t a new position — they’re a type of employee for decades now. But there was something special about the Boca Grande crew during this time of need. They’re a dedicated, local group of volunteers who aren’t simply trying rebuild or repair the damage. They are helping the city of Boca Grande to rebuild with nature.

“I see Boca Grande as a town that’s really going to be special for a long time to come,” says Joe Manker, who became a firefighter in Boca Grande when he was 14. A few months after Irma, he took on a volunteer position as an apprentice firefighter with the Boca Grande fire department.

“I wanted to come here and show my support for the state, because I grew up in Boca Grande,” he says. “I wanted to come here and help my community.”

That’s what Boca Grande firefighters have been doing for years. They’ve been helping the state of Florida with its own restoration. By the time of the state’s Hurricane Irma

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