A historic Naples waterfront area came back to life Monday with the reopening of Tin City. The collection of shopping and dining establishments was forced to shut down after the building were damaged by Hurricane Irma last month.
The restaurants and shops at Tin City employ about 200 people, all of them dependent on tourist dollars.
"We're back in business!" exclaimed Deb Underwood, unable to hide her excitement. She and her four employees are back to selling beach-themed home decor at her "Touch of Florida" shop in the iconic tourist attraction, after Irma shut them down. Water leaking from the roof damaged their product and their floor.
"We got a new floor, everything's repainted, and there's such a sense of starting over," Underwood said.
At Pincher's restaurant, director of operations Grant Phelan said his several dozen workers are eager to start bringing in a paycheck again. The restaurant underwent extensive repairs after the building was tilted down toward Naples Bay.
"We dodged bullet," Phelan said. "It's behind us now, and we all can look forward to (tourist) season and moving forward."
Governor Rick Scott attended a brief reopening ceremony at Tin City Monday afternoon. With his focus on job creation, Scott was glad to see the historic attraction back in business.
"You hate to see all these individuals not getting to work, so it's exciting that it's opening again," Scott said.
Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples-area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Tin City's 200 jobs are an important part of the area's economy.
"Tourism is our largest employer, so when something like this happens and hundreds of people are not able to work, it's really difficult for our economy," Wert said. "So it's good to put everyone back to work."