My friend who lived near me in Cortez calls it “the Cortez effect”. Legend has it that the Native Americans who inhabited the Cortez Peninsula cursed the storms so they wouldn’t land in their homeland, protecting their burial grounds. She and I have been through many storms and near storms in our 20+ years in Cortez, and we always seemed to dodge the bullet. Well, this time we dodged the biggest bullet of them all, and we should all be grateful.
The other question is now that we’re all safe and comfortable, we can start thinking about the economic impact of one of the costliest storms to ever hit Florida. Economists are already looking into this question and indicate that Ian will likely negatively affect the country’s economic growth throughout this year. Typically, when reconstruction and recovery begins, the economic benefits will be spread over the next few years. Unfortunately, due to shortages of workers and building materials, Florida’s economic recovery may take time.
The consensus of economists is that natural disasters have a relatively modest economic impact, especially in the short term once businesses begin to rebuild and reopen. When it comes to real estate values, the worst affected areas of Florida have also seen the fastest growth in the state and even the country and will not be permanently damaged. The unemployment rate in Tampa and Fort Myers was 2.7% in August, lower than the national rate. Both of these areas have seen a rapid influx of new residents during the pandemic. Additionally, Florida’s economic growth has outpaced the nation’s every quarter since the start of 2021.
Longtime Florida residents are used to major storms, and they and the state have prepared for them. In May, the state set aside $2 billion to help insurance companies handle claims. That said, you can be sure that the fallout for insurance companies will be significant. Underfunded businesses may close, home insurance policies will be dropped, and rates will rise. This is exactly what we don’t need at a time when it’s hard to attract new insurance companies to the state. As always, my recommendation is that if you have a good home insurance policy and don’t get let down, live with the possible premium increase and be happy, especially for the next few years.
Finally, the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics claim that the earnings of those affected by hurricanes exceeded other workers who were unaffected in the three years following the storm. As stated earlier, this is all down to the workers needed to help rebuild and revive the economy.
There will be a lot of pain at first – just look at these gruesome images of our neighbors not too far south and try to imagine yourself in that situation. Help is needed, mainly donations – especially to the Red Cross – but anything you and your family can do to ease their pain, even a little, would certainly be appreciated.
I don’t believe in legends very much, and as another friend pointed out, maybe Native Americans actually studied weather patterns over a period of decades and never really cast spells. But legend or not, we in Cortez and on Anna Maria Island have been extraordinarily lucky, and we must not forget that eventually luck runs out. Let us remember that in 1921, the fishing village of Cortez was practically destroyed by a major hurricane.
It’s October, the month of Halloween, so let’s hope Native Americans are still casting their magic spells if that’s the reason. For my part, I want to believe anything that wards off these storms, magic spells or the study of meteorology. I’ll take either one as long as it works.