Charley, Ivan, Frances and Wilma are just half of the unwelcome visitors to batter the Sunshine State in the last two years. But despite the winds and the waters, a thousand people a day are still flooding into Florida.
“They're coming from all over northward, any state you name it any region you name it,” said Brad Colean a local realtor.
And many of them are moving to here to Port st. Lucie, about an hour north of West Palm Beach. Robert March came here 20 years ago, and has weathered many a storm.
“What my wife and I are doing about it is moving to a house that's even more substantially built for hurricane protection,” he said.
But March said he wouldn't consider leaving. All over Port St. Lucie, the houses are going up -- lots and lots of them. Big builders like Centex and Lennar and smaller builders are offering big incentives. All this despite the storms.
Port St. Lucie is actually the fastest growing county in all of the U.S. Folks come here from out of state for the weather and they come here from south Florida for the affordability. And whatever comes in from across the ocean, nobody seems to care very much.
“You have time,” said March. “You have four or five days to prepare, and if you have a well-built house, built to the hurricane standards of today, we feel like you've got a pretty good chance of getting through it okay.”
Despite four hurricanes in 2004, Florida saw it's highest growth that year ever. Population grew by 390,000 compared with 300,000 for most years in the decade
“People have a short memory, I believe,” said Jack McCabe, a real estate analyst and consultant. “And after the 2004 hurricane seasion, where we got hit by four, we still had an excellent sales season during the winter.”
But the insurance industry's memory is long. And that, more than the wind and the rain, is putting a damper on the housing market.
“Insurance is a very very difficult problem in south Florida,” said McCabe. “And it's literally pricing some people out of their homes at this point.”
With weather experts predicting heightened hurricane seasons for the next decade, the big "what if" is this season. With two bad ones in a row, three strikes against Florida could keep some folks out.