Despite what you may have heard on the news outlets, Florida is open and we are ready for business! I've watched countless news stories since Hurricane Irma decided to come visit our lovely state. Each story has focused on one thing: the destruction and long rebuilding process that we face. They focus on downed trees, lack of power, homes with damage, and whatever else they can find to make it seem like Florida will never be the same. Yes, there are parts of Florida that were heavily damaged, still don't have power, and face a long road to rebuild. However, that isn't the majority of the state! In fact, even those areas of the Florida Keys that received the full force of Hurricane Irma, many of the people are trying to spread the same message I am: WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS!
See, one thing many people don't realize about those of us that live in Florida and the Florida Keys is the resolve we have. People laugh, but we live in a state full of danger: hurricanes every summer, alligators the size of small cars, mosquitoes the size of small airplanes (At least it seems like it when they buzz by you), sinkholes, pythons, sharks and things we have yet to discover. So Hurricane Irma's setback is nothing we won't face head-on, overcome, and be better than ever! Why? Because we are WARRIORS; not survivors! We don't get by on chance and luck, we get by on hard work and prayers!
Over the next few months you will see advertisement after advertisement asking for donations of your money to various organizations. I urge you to do your due diligence before giving your hard earned money to them. Many of these organizations give 3-5 cents to those in need for every dollar they receive. It's hard to donate more when a charity organization has a CEO that makes multi-millions of dollars! In addition, we don't want hand outs! Yes, there are people who are going to need help to rebuild homes, to help with clothing and food, and some will need financial support due to the loss. But most of us just want to work. If you really want to help those of us in Florida, come down, visit the areas, and enjoy a vacation of fishing, visiting local restaurants, and shopping at LOCAL stores. Take a tour of the entire state, spreading the money you would donate to an organization to various individuals across the area; all while discovering just how special and strong the State of Florida is. I guarantee that taking a trip with a fishing guide, buying something at a local business, or enjoying a great meal at a local restaurant will do more for the people of Florida than any donation to a charity organization. The money will go directly to the people who need it; 100% of it, not just 1%. It will also help spread the word that Florida is open and ready for our visitors to come back and enjoy all we have to offer.
I can personally attest that while many structures may have been damaged from Hurricane Irma, our fishery is still going strong. Nature adapts much quicker than man, and the fish have already learned how to take advantage of what Irma changed. The snook are hungrier than ever; the tarpon are happy and feeding, and the redfish are doing what they do best, exploring every nook and cranny looking for food. Yep, it's a pretty cool time to be on the water, enjoying the sunshine and seeing nature adapt right in front of your eyes. For those looking for photography or ecotours: Now is the time! You will see things and encounter things that aren't available at other times. Yesterday, during a very brief scouting trip, we saw more than one hundred manatees, dolphins crashing pods of fish, eagles, osprey, and countless other birds.
So please, don't listen to those who make their money by increasing viewers with misleading headlines and hype. Instead, listen to those of us who live here, know what the truth is, and make our living here. We don't want handouts! We want you to come visit so we can get back to work! Book your trip now!