by Karen Alberg Grossman

Hurricane Ian was clearly one of the most devasting in U.S. history, even with an allegedly under-reported death toll. (According to some speculation, beaches remained closed after the storm to obscure the number of bodies still washing up on shore…)

ABOVE: Saturday, October 15, 2022, in Fort Myers, Florida near Centennial Park. The Category 4 storm is estimated to have caused more than $60 billion in private insured losses just in Florida, making it the second-largest disaster loss event on record, according to the industry trade group Insurance Information Institute. At least 54 people in the county died in storm-related deaths according to the state Medical Examiners Commission, the most of any county. (Photo by Thomas O’Neill/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

For Florida retailers on the west coast, few of whom had flood insurance, it’s been a nightmare. Says Craig DeLongy, whose two Naples stores were direct hits, “I’ve met with an adjuster and the tally for the two stores, just to replace flooring, drywall, counters and fixturing, is $300,000. (Fortunately, we saved a lot of our fixtures or the dollar amount would have been higher.) We were lucky to sign up SERVEPRO and a drywall company right away; they did it all in 10 days. Of course, I paid a premium, but it’s done. These days, people are standing in line to buy drywall and it’s a long wait just to get someone to come look…”

Damage from the storm in one of Delongy’s Naples locations. Photo courtesy of Craig DeLongy.

Wondering why more people with waterfront real estate don’t have flood insurance? As one who owned oceanfront property in Florida without flood insurance, I can provide an answer: one never imagines it can possibly get as bad as it does. Asked about getting flood insurance for the future, DeLongy responds, “I’m going to look into it. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place…but I’m going to add flood insurance to my Jupiter store on the intercoastal.”

John Craig’s Naples store exterior before Hurricane Ian.

In contrast to the trauma, expense and emotional toll of surviving a storm, DeLongy talks about the compassionate outreach from the menswear industry. “Most vendors were very understanding about my request to cancel fall orders. (By the time we’ll be able to reopen around Thanksgiving, we’ll be needing spring goods, not fall…) Enrico at Canali, Philippe at Throat Threads, so many people have reached out, offering to help us or contributing clothing/meals to those in need. Geoffrey Michel at The Met in Sarasota offered to come down here with his team to help with the clean-up. I realize we were lucky; so many people lost everything. But these gestures from menswear execs made me appreciate the caring industry we’re in…”


One Reply to “AFTER THE STORM”

  1. Thank God that is the worse that happen to your beautiful operations on the west coast of Florida. Hopefully you receive all the help that you need to reopen ASAP.

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