Monday, June 14, 2021

Marco Island’s Hurricane History

The Calusa Indians lived here some 5,000 years ago and believed our island was sacred because terrible storms that affected other Florida tribes/regions seemed to miss Marco Island altogether.

They prepared for the Big One that never came by building their homes and places of worship above the ground in an effort to avoid flooding. Expert woodworkers, they also used a bounty of shells to serve as the foundation for many of their high structures.

The sacred belief, however, ended September 10, 2017 when the island suffered a direct hit from a hurricane. Irma was the culprit.

There have been a couple of close calls leading up to Irma. Early pioneers recalled The Great Miami Hurricane of September 18, 1927 affecting Marco and just before Elliott, Robert and Frank Mackle Jr. began developing the modern era in the mid 1960s, some 150 island residents suffered through Hurricane Donna as it devastated Naples in 1960.

In 2005, Wilma reared her ugly head, slamming into Everglades City. Virtually every Marco homeowner suffered pool cage damage but modern building codes spared many island structures.

Michael Coleman is the author of “Marco Island, Florida’s Gulf Playground,” a compelling 110-page editorial/ photographic narrative showcasing the island’s storied history. A local bestseller, now in it’s second printing, the book is available at Sunshine Booksellers, all beach resort gift shops and at His endless wanderlust has taken him to over 100 of the world’s most fascinating countries but it is here on Marco Island where he feels most at home. Hailing from a newspaper and television news background, Michael parlayed his media experience to become Press Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Tourism, an Executive Editor for a local newspaper, and a Cruise Travel Columnist. He authored his first book, “Marco Island Culture & History,” in 1995. The seeds for “Marco Island, Florida’s Gulf Playground,” in celebration of the modern era’s 50th birthday in 2015, were sewn a couple of years ago as he flipped through the pages of an inspiring history publication at a bookstore a world away from Marco in, of all places, Dubai. The city was celebrating the 40th birthday of its modern era.

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