the everglades

Six weeks after Irma destroyed so many villages in Florida, we visited Key Lagon, Everglade City and Chokoloskee.  When you drive past endless piles of rubble, I must say, your heart sinks.  However, this is closely followed by hope with a handmade sign that reads, 'after every storm there is a rainbow #welcomehome'

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piles of rubble

your heart sinks

After Irma, only 14 acres of the 148 acre island of Chokoloskee remained above water, the bridge connecting it to the mainland was impassable and since the water level has dropped, the aftermath could be seen with 85% of the islands houses condemned

I kept photography to a minimum with respect for the residents however we were lucky to visit a few local businesses whilst in Everglade City and Chokoloskee

the Smallwood Store

Established in 1906 by Ted Smallwood, the Smallwood Store served a remote and isolated area buying hides, furs, and farm produce in exchange for providing the goods required to survive.  Ted Smallwood’s Store was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.  When the doors were shut in 1982, 90% of the original goods remained in the store.  In 1990 Ted’s granddaughter reopened the store as a museum and today it serves as a time capsule of Florida pioneer history

In the past, six hurricanes have have bought water to the floor of the Smallwood Store and it has survived, however Irma has unfortunately taken its toll and caused significant damage to both the dock and roof

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the dock

vital for business

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smallwood store

a time capsule of Florida pioneer history

The dock is used for motorboat tours, so its rebuild is vital for business.  You can help the Smallwood Store recovery efforts here: www.gofundme.com/smallwoodstore

tour the glades

A great little tour operator in Everglades city, run by Tod and supported by Lashaun, both of whom couldn't have been more helpful, booking us onto a motorboat tour and into a local hotel, with only 24hrs notice, along with flexing the tour time due to the weather conditions.  Tod was even kind enough to buy us lunch at the local cafe due to a slight miscommunication on tour start time

The extraordinary ecosystem, Everglades National Park, provides an important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile and the elusive Florida panther

We had the pleasure of being driven around in a motorboat, for three hours, by the very knowledgable Captain Corey and meeting his lovely father Captain Gary.  The father son team that also own the Smallwood Store

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extraordinary ecosystem

numerous rare and endangered species

Havana Cafe of the Everglades

Our last stop before we left the Everglades; we enjoyed a delicious lunch served by the friendliest team of staff

The dedication and hard work of the locals in Everglade City and Chokoloskee, along with the community spirit, is inspiring.  Something I wish I saw more of.  Their focus is on the future, not what they have lost

#floridastrong

 

I am not an environmental scientist so can't really comment on whether global warning had its part to play in the severity of Irma but seeing first hand how natural disasters like this can destroy peoples homes and business, protecting our environment really should be on the priority list.  A few small suggestions of how we can all help to make a difference:

  • Compost everything you can and where you can't, recycle, recycle, recycle!
  • Don't forget your hessian bags when you pop to the shops
  • Keep chemicals out of the drains with natural cleaning products such as those from KINN living
  • Take your own cup to your favourite coffee shop
  • Use a green energy company such as ecotricity
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