An economic shutdown, a global health crisis, and even a brutal hurricane season showed to be no match for the strength, prosperity, and resiliency of the people of Perdido Key. Perdidoans are no stranger to looking tough times in the face. Living in an active hurricane region allows those who live on the gulf coast to prepare themselves for the worst possible situation that may come. People who have experienced tragedy on the coast, have lost homes, businesses, even loved ones. One thing that keeps a community like Perdido stronger than ever is the people. You can see in historical accounts of devastation in the aftermath of a nasty hurricane season. Every single time, after the destruction, comes the cleanup, then comes the overwhelming support from the community. The Perdido Key community has been through a lot together, fellow business owners will not think twice to support another business that is struggling. That is what being a part of Perdido is all about, helping your neighbor in times of need and treating everyone like family.
The year 2020 brought a whole new challenge that no one, across the entire globe, was expecting. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a sense of unknown to communities everywhere. Although the year started off with strong plans for improvement and mass excitement for the new decade, hopes were quickly shot down after a national economic shutdown, just in time for peak season along the coast. Although travel seemed like an impossibility for some people throughout the country, shutting down business was not an option.
To keep businesses up and running, the Perdido Chamber did everything possible to share business news and updates quickly while keeping members and the community updated on the most pertinent information from the county, state, and federal levels on the Covid-19 crisis. The Chamber was also on track with all business grant opportunities and resources to keep businesses open during the year. In good Perdido spirit, each and every Perdido Chamber member received a call from a staff member to make sure they were doing alright during the strange times.
Although things looked different, business continued. Cherished networking events such as the Business After Hours and Networking Luncheon went virtual through zoom meetings. In an attempt to keep business opportunities open for everyone, new networking opportunities were added as well such as the Key to Networking Coffee Virtual Meeting and a fun shop local bingo event.
Resources to help everyone shop local and support small businesses were spread far and wide. People learned just how easy it was to support a fellow business. Whether that be by sharing and liking their social media posts, ordering from their website online, or just by giving kind words. The community truly came together to support each other during a time when no one could see an end in sight.
Just when everyone’s social feeds were flooding with COVID-19 news, hurricane season was right around the corner. Not only were businesses challenged with operating under Personal Protective Equipment, social distancing, and other COVID limitations, but now they had to mentally and physically, prepare their businesses and homes for a possible natural disaster. Again, the Chamber did their due diligence by spreading resources from FEMA and Emergency Management departments in both Baldwin and Escambia counties.
In September of 2020, Hurricane Sally devastated the Perdido Area with mass flooding, winds, and damaged structures all throughout the coast. Information was shared about closures, emergency response updates, and even small business resources that proved to be helpful directly after the storm. Roads were closed and power was out, however that did not stop people from helping their neighbor remove debris and check on all their friends and family. The hard work did not go unnoticed.
A couple of weeks after the storm, most of the debris was cleared from roadways, and people did their best to get back to business as usual… whatever that means. Members of the Chamber and the community even gathered their resources to put together a free community shrimp boil to give a delicious pick-me-up. To stir some positivity just in time for the holidays, the Perdido Chamber hosted a series of drive-in movie nights for a family-fun, socially distant way to enjoy a night out with friends and family. The monthly, “Flicks on the Field” event included special themed nights such as a costume contest and trunk or treat during Halloween, and a holiday craft and vendor fair just in time to support local artists and small businesses for the holidays.
2020 has finally come to an end, but we all still feel its effects today, and will for the foreseeable future. In Perdido Key, we are no strangers to facing hard times. If our community continues to show the collective resilient energy it is today, there is no doubt that we can handle the issue. We were able to learn a lot from last year’s mountain of challenges, making us even stronger for years to come. The people of Perdido have mastered the art of resiliency, and we look forward to 2021 being a year of transformation and innovative ideas for growth.