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Moore About Business: Dock rebuilding after Hurricane Ian

Dixie Fish House.jpg

I visited Main Street on Fort Myers Beach a few weeks ago. As I drove down San Carlos Boulevard, including detours that kept me off the main road at times, it felt like what I can only imagine a town-that-becomes-a-military zone is like. Nothing that should be familiar is familiar, devastation and roadblocks everywhere, checkpoints manned by law enforcement, no road signs or traffic signals, the normal visual indicators of location, like business signs, all gone.

Like many of you, I’ve seen boats on roads, cars in water, a gigantic pile of washers and dryers alongside San Carlos Boulevard, 20 feet wide by 20 feet high. Visually very disorienting. Just surreal.

When I finally reached my destination on Fishermans Wharf, I met many local businesspeople, including Joanne Semmer, who owns an environmental planning consultancy. She is also involved with the Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center.

"I'm a licensed marine contractor and environmental permitting specialist. What I do is I help design and permit docks and then turn it over to another company to do the building," she told me.

Semmer also shared with me recent permitting updates for rebuilding docks, and how she is helping fellow residents get through the permitting process.

"The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued the next emergency exemption on permitting to repair the dock damages from the hurricane," Semmer said. "And as long as you build it back to the same footprint that it was before the hurricane, then you're exempted from the DEP's permits. You can go online to the DP and you can print out, you know, all that information."

None of us can envision just what it is going to take to re-build and restore our islands. Our hearts and support, in any way we can, need to continue to be with our neighbors whose lives have been so disrupted, both on the personal and business levels.

Download this PDF about the FDEP dock permitting process

Karen Moore is the publisher of Southwest Florida Business Today