A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — You can’t miss the white, white, white sand of the shores of Port St. Lucie. You can’t miss the brightly colored houses and the bright blue skies. You can’t miss anything.
But you can’t forget the devastation.
A massive hurricane roared through in 2005 and took out most of the structure out here, leaving the white-marble town nearly devoid of residents. It left nothing but bare, gray pavement.
And a bare, gray sidewalk for hundreds of people to walk on. It was a ghost town.
Today, almost a year to the day after the hurricane, the people of Port St. Lucie are about to take another hit. They are going to have a new beach, a new town, a new building where all those who were homeless before will be moving in.
This is the town that was left over from the massive storm, one that could have been any other city of any other place. For a little town, that is no small feat.
It’s a town just off Interstate 95, with a population of about 350. It sits along the eastern tip of the Treasure Coast, where the sun sets behind a wall of sugar-white condos and the moon rises behind it, a wall of empty houses. Only the beach remains, its beaches filled with the plastic bags and beach umbrellas of tourists who came to see the waves crash into the sand. The town itself is not what it used to be.
“It took nearly everything down,” said the retired engineer whose home overlooks the beach. “We’re trying to start over.”
It’s a kind of rebirth that could be the end of the end for many a place that’s seen better days. Like the town of St. Lucie, which is now becoming known for its status as a hub for