Spring training is back to normal in Fort Myers, but the city will never be the same

[anvplayer video=”5163878″ station=”998122″]

Spring training in sunny Florida is the place where every fan is optimistic — and every team is hoping in February they’re still playing baseball in late October.

“The team here comes first,” Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s about winning. It’s about coming together as a group and accomplishing something as a group, and winning the ballgame comes above all else.”

While optimism is in the air, there is also an air of sadness and pain for what happened on Sept. 29, 2022.

Hurricane Ian was large, destructive and deadly. The Twins complex in Fort Myers had some water damage, a large image of Kirby Puckett was destroyed and some of the batter’s eyes were damaged.

But the Twins were much more fortunate than others. For some, it will take years to recover.

RELATED: Minnesota natives in Florida see damage of Hurricane Ian firsthand

Anne and Greg Meehan are Minnesotans who live on Fort Myers Beach. They know what Minnesota nice is, and they saw that spirit in Florida.

“The people have come down from Minnesota and helped clean things, so I’ve seen that,” Meehan said. “I’ve definitely seen support online. I personally have received great encouragement and support from people in Minnesota. People still want to come.”

Even the Twins training complex doubled as a headquarters for fire rescue and recovery workers during the hurricane cleanup effort.

Many Minnesotans vacation in the Fort Myers area every winter, and if you are heading south, prepare yourself.

“It’s really, just shocking,” St. Cloud native Brody Zemaitis said while at the beach. “If you look around, you see the pier, it’s almost gone. You have boats on the side of the road. It’s something that I’m not used to seeing.”

Baseball is back, and that’s normal. But the Fort Myers area is trying to rebuild and find its new normal.