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June 15, 2023 — Publix in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, has reopened after Hurricane Ian significantly impacted the island and surrounding areas in September 2022. 

Finally back home

On May 25, 2023, Publix associates warmly welcomed customers with familiar smiles and the quality food our customers expect from us. Our teams took extra care to have the items most needed by customers during this time of rebuilding were easy to find. 

One Publix associate, Elda, a cashier who has been with Publix for more than 4 years, had just moved back into her home in Fort Myers Beach the day before the store’s reopening. Elda was displaced after Hurricane Ian, and her family spent the last several months rebuilding their home. 

During the storm, Elda and her family endured water pouring into their home due to storm surge and spent the days following the storm just trying to pick up the pieces and find a way off the island. Her managers were in constant contact with her throughout the rebuilding process to make sure her needs, and the needs of her co-workers, were met. 

“Without the support of my family, friends and co-workers, I’m not sure I would have been able to get back to this point,” she said. “Now that the rebuilding process is complete for my family and my Publix family, I look forward to helping my church with additional clean-ups in the community.”

Elda stayed in contact with her co-workers over the last several months and was ecstatic to be reunited with them during the reopening in Fort Myers Beach. 

“My co-workers are like family. It still makes me sad to think about all that they lost during the storm, but now that I’m home and around friends at work, each day gets better.”

Some of Elda’s favorite parts about the store’s reopening were greeting her customers again, seeing her fellow associates and feeling all of the support from the community and Publix. 

“There were so many customers I was reunited with at the reopening, too many names to mention,” said Elda. “It was an emotional time for me because it was the first time I learned they were alive and safe.” 

Elda said it was a wonderful feeling being back in her Publix store, and she feels like she can breathe again. “Everything is coming back together.” 

At the heart of all we do

"Our customers and the communities we serve are at the heart of all we do,” said Store Manager Darryll Yarick. “As our community continues to rebuild, we are honored and privileged to serve our customers and welcome them back into our store."

The store was filled with hope during reopening day, as our associates gave back to the community. 

Boxed lunches were given to first responders, volunteers with Beach Baptist Church, local residents and construction crews hard at work rebuilding homes and infrastructure on the island. Publix also provided insulated bags of basic necessities to residents who visited the store on opening day. To wrap up the day, Publix donated $5,000 in shelf-stable food, hygiene items, paper products and a Publix gift card to Beach Baptist Church in Fort Myers Beach to continue feeding the community. 

One thoughtful customer even sent flowers to the store to show the team they were glad their Publix was open again. 

If there’s anything the past several months has taught us, it’s that our associates and the Fort Myers Beach community are resilient. Publix remains committed to working with our neighbors and associates as the community rebuilds. Let’s continue to do good, together.