Back when I was director of Bike Florida, my all-time favorite tour was along the Forgotten Coast….from Port St. Joe to Tallahassee.
On our first day in Port St. Joe we always did an out-and-back to nearby Mexico Beach. Because it was a classic circa-1950s Florida beach town frozen in amber. No high rise condos to block the Gulf view. Fairly modest beach houses and mom and pop businesses and so forth.
But that was before Hurricane Michael roared through in 2018 and fairly ripped Mexico Beach apart.
Albert Einstein told us that the very definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results.” But of course, Einstein never peddled beachfront property in Florida.
This week I am retracing my favorite Forgotten Coast tour for the first time in several years. And naturally, on Day 1, I wanted to see what had become of poor, ravished Mexico Beach since Michael came calling.
I was not really surprised to see that so many newly built beach houses have sprung up in exactly the same places where the old beach houses had been swept away by wind and water.
To be sure, there were still some visible remnants of Michael’s fury. Though not as many as you might expect, the march of progress being what it is.
You could even see where they were building new houses atop the very bones of the old ones.
Because when you come right down to it, Florida beach sand is much too valuable a commodity to allow to go to waste.
A mere four years after Michael, realtors and construction crews are swarming over Mexico Beach. Cashing in on the lucrative renewal opportunities that Michael created for them.
Because that is the natural order of things in a state that was invented by get rich quick entrepreneurs, land speculators and film-flam artists.
Perhaps the most visible reminders of Michael’s visit are tens of thousands of dead trees – and they are everywhere – that could not withstand nature’s fury.
But not to worry. Houses have already begun to spring up in the very shadows of those dead trees.
Raising the possibility that the next “natural” catastrophe might be fire rather than wind and water.
But, listen, this is Florida.
Where the state subsidizes wind damage, and the feds subsidize flood risks.
And so, naturally, beachside business is booming atop the ruins of the previous beachside boom.
Because…face it…the odds of another Michale-scale catastrophe zeroing in on Mexico Beach have to be astronomical. Right?
Climate change be dammed!
Florida is the freest state in America.
And anyone who doesn’t believe that all of the Florida west coast beach communities destroyed by Hurricane Ian – not to mention all of the east coast beach houses dragged out to sea by Nicole – won’t be rebuilt or replaced in short order…really hasn’t been paying attention.
Hey, this is Florida, pal!
If God didn’t want us to make money on people who lust to live atop sand next door to raging water, he wouldn’t have created this sandy peninsula to begin with.