Silver Springs, Florida, is the first beachfront town to reopen after Hurricane Sandy

Silver Springs, Florida, is the first beachfront town to reopen after Hurricane Sandy

A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich?

The Atlantic hurricane season is over — and so is the Florida beach — but the beach in question, Silver Springs, doesn’t feel like much of an example of a new normal. The town is on the northern edge of the state’s Pinellas County, and it’s the most popular tourist destination in Florida’s north — a place where tourists arrive in their minivans and drive off in their golf carts, leaving behind their golf clubs and their bags in a parking lot. The Silver Springs Town Council meets once a month, and the town itself is barely three square miles. And yet there’s a buzz about Silver Springs as the first beachfront town in Florida — and in the state — to reopen for the season, after last year’s hurricane made its way to Florida. “The town voted to reopen a week after the hurricane, and it’s doing extremely well,” says council member Debbie Mays.

Like many popular Florida beaches, Silver Springs was hit last year by a Category 1 hurricane, which came ashore on October 8, 2016, and quickly overwhelmed the town by flooding much of the town and the nearby city of Gulfport. Silver Springs was declared a disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and its mayor, Tom LaPlant, started looking into whether he could build a small but safe community on that flood-ravaged chunk of land. Silver Springs turned out to be a model for other Florida-style communities like the ones on Amelia Island and on Cape Coral, in the Tampa Bay area. So far, the town has been able to build the infrastructure to handle a storm like the one that hit last year — including a seawall, a seawall to protect from the pounding surf, a sand filter facility where residents can pump their own water, a small playground, and a few new homes.

Silver Springs’ plan is to be self-sufficient after the storm — it has all

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