After the Hurricane
2005: Ten Years Ago on Useppa
Reminiscences about Useppa ten years ago include tales of neighbors opening their homes to other Useppans needing places to stay after Hurricane Charlie’s destructive landfall in August 2004.
Over the winter and through the next summer, loud music was the background to roofers and carpenters rebuilding the century old Collier Inn. Dirty and sweaty, never without a smile, these men knew what they were doing was more than just a job.
Landscapers, craftsmen, Useppa employees, independent contractors, all knew the future of Useppa depended on their efforts. Whether they worked for the Useppa Island Club or individual homeowners, they went beyond what anyone expected.
There was a common feeling on the island that recovery was too big of a job for individual egos. If Useppa was to survive, if the infrastructure was to be rebuilt, if homes were to be rebuilt, it could only be done in a team effort.
Yes, we still had fun. The annual Saint Patrick Day Parade was held. Croquet was played on the beach until we could go back to the lawn. We went sailing. Happy Hours rolled over into dinners at the Tarpon Bar.
Under the leadership of Tim Fitzsimmons and the “Can Do Team,” homeowners, boating members, individual members, accomplished what some thought impossible. The Collier Inn was reopened with a ribbon cutting and party in one year. Thanksgiving was celebrated in its dining room, Christmas carols were sung around its piano. Residents moved into “new” old homes.
Looking at these pictures, it’s easy to look back with soft feelings of nostalgia. We were survivors, but we were lucky. We had the money, the management, and the people. We worked together to accomplish the impossible.