Hurricane Ian scored a direct hit on Vacation Villas at FantasyWorld, but we survived and the recovery efforts have begun.
The powerful storm made landfall 140 miles away from the Resort. Because we are located well inland, we generally avoid major hurricane damage. By the time Ian reached us, the wind speeds had slowed to 55mph. However, the massive, slow-moving storm dumped a historic amount of rain as it crossed the State. We had over 18 inches of rain in our area and suffered a 500-year rainfall event. The county’s drainage infrastructure is only designed to withstand a 100-year event.
We secured the property before the storm and had a “ride out” team on property during the storm. Because of this team’s hard work (under challenging conditions), we were able to prevent major pool, recreation center, lobby, and restaurant/bar damage. Unfortunately, nothing could stop the rain. Over 70 townhomes suffered major damage due to rising waters.
FantasyWorld is open and the property looks good, but appearances can be deceiving
We were able to prevent major pool, recreation center, lobby, and restaurant/bar damage. Our own maintenance crew made it their personal mission to get the amenities re-opened for the guests that were here during the hurricane. The main pool, lazy river, and water slides were re-opened within 24 hours; an amazing feat. Our entertainment staff (who make tie dyed shirts and sell snow cones) did the hard work of hauling and replacing all the pool deck furniture and all the patio furniture so the maintenance crew could work on mitigation.
Although we are proud that we were able to very quickly reopen the amenities and return the property to relatively normal operations within a day of the storms passing, the normal appearance of the property can make it difficult to realize the extent to which the storm’s impact was felt. The images are stark, even knowing that the water had receded significantly prior to the images being taken.
The majority of our units were not damaged at all. Other than missing screens, and within a few days it was hard to tell that a storm had passed through. There was no visible storm debris and all the amenities were up and running except for the mini golf (which was completely destroyed). It was encouraging to see families enjoying beautiful weather and sunshine by the pool deck, children laughing, people eating, everybody having a great time, completely unaware of what happened just a few days earlier. It was a wonderful sight.