Brutal cold boosts revenue of Southwest Florida businesses

Kitty Medica tried to fly home to Chicago Wednesday, but now she is missing her boyfriend’s birthday – even though her flight at Southwest Florida International Airport is rescheduled for Thursday.

“The weather is the same in Chicago tomorrow, basically,” Medica said. “I decided I should just wait.”

Noel Sterchele is one of the lucky ones. She managed to escape the harsh weather and land safely in Southwest Florida.

“It was delayed a little bit because it was so cold,” Sterchele said. “I had to wrap her up in a blanket. No skin could show because within 10 minutes, you could start getting frostbite in those temperatures.”

The deep freeze up north is good news for businesses in Southwest Florida. Many people want to avoid the brutal cold temperatures and some air passengers are unable to return due to dangerous flight conditions.

Hotels, such as the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on Fort Myers Beach, are busier than previous years at this time.

“Our 60 degrees is paradise compared to their like negative 30,” said Gary Lee, group sales manager at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina.

That hotel’s phones are ringing off the hook with people looking for a get-a-way.

“There was a lull with what happened with red tide this summer,” Lee said. “But everything’s on the ups and everything’s picking up, so it’s great to see.”

Miranda DuBois is staying in Southwest Florida with her two boys from Wisconsin.

“Our wind chill is negative 50,” said DuBois. Wind chill accounts for the air temperature and how fast the wind is blowing.

As for Medica, she doesn’t mind that she has a more extended vacation.

“I’m lucky I have a place to stay,” Medica said.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Michael Mora
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