Mexico Beach rebuilding taller and brighter

Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 7:00 AM CDT
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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s just a normal day for Ace Hardware owner Al Cathey, who also happens to be the Mayor of Mexico Beach. His hardware store reopened a year and a half ago after being closed because of damage from Hurricane Michael. Now it’s a place locals come to get their tools, all part of the rebuilding process.

“We lost 85 percent of our structures in Michael,” Cathey said. “We’ve been a busy bee community.”

When you go outside the store doors, that’s where you see the real progress.

“Our town is growing back, it’s coming back, it’s bright, it’s pretty, it’s taller than it used to be,” Cathey said. “For the most part, I’m pleased with the progress that we’ve made.”

That progress comes with new elevation and wind requirements for buildings. All lessons learned from the storm.

“I think we’re more prepared,” Cathey said. “We can’t just think it’ll happen once. Hopefully, we don’t draw the short straw of a Category 5 but, we are more resilient. No question about it.”

As you walk down the street, you can see house after house under construction. It’s not just unique to this area, the same can be seen all across Mexico Beach.

“What we’ve focused on is getting our infrastructure back, giving everyone in town the service they need,” Cathey said. “Water and sewer.”

Mexico Beach’s small-town charm is what makes it special to so many.

“There’s a spirit in our town that people want to be a part of,” Cathey said. “We’re just a little spot that has the Gulf of Mexico, white sand beaches, gorgeous sunsets.”

Those views work as a reminder of the bright days ahead.

“To see the vibrant spirit of our city, it’ll put a click in your heels,” Cathey said.

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