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Why the opening of a Florida Publix means more than just Pub Subs and fried chicken

After Hurricane Michael, a major Florida storm several years ago, a convoy of Publix trucks hit the road to deliver ice and supplies to victims.

Now, about eight months after Hurricane Ian slammed Southwest Florida, another Publix business move is bringing a sense of comfort and normalcy to a hard-hit area.

The supermarket in Fort Myers Beach has been repaired and reopened this past week after it took a hit from a 10-foot storm surge.

The return of such a major business presence to a still-recovering hurricane zone, leaders say, boosts the community’s well-being as much as satisfies the practical need to buy the week’s groceries.

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A downed stop sign rests on a fence on the corner of Lagoon and Tarpon roads in Fort Myers Beach, next to items like a pinball machine and appliances, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. The items were among tons of debris left behind in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which hit the area as a Category 4 storm a month earlier.
A downed stop sign rests on a fence on the corner of Lagoon and Tarpon roads in Fort Myers Beach, next to items like a pinball machine and appliances, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. The items were among tons of debris left behind in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which hit the area as a Category 4 storm a month earlier.

To celebrate Thursday’s reopening of the Fort Myers Beach location, Publix employees handed out boxed lunches to residents and construction workers, according to WFLA.

And Publix leaders know exactly what the reopening of the supermarket means to the community.

“Last year’s storm still impacts many residents, and we know how important it is to provide them with these basic but important items,” said Lindsey Willis, Publix’s media relations manager. “Our customers and communities we serve are at the heart of all we do. As our community continues to rebuild, we are honored and privileged to serve our customers and welcome them back to their Publix store.”

Before Publix announced the opening date as repairs were still being made, the anticipation grew.

“We want our little Publix on the island,” Fort Myers Beach Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt told WBBH-NBC2. “We love our Publix. I’m hungering for Publix. Not just for grocery shopping, but to get a sub at the deli.”