FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – If you’ve been to Fort Myers Beach, you’ve seen the clock. A tall, blue clock is the center of the square. It’s gone now, destroyed by Hurricane Ian.
“It’s more than an hour. It’s a lighthouse,” Jeffrey Thurner said.
In a place where time didn’t seem to matter, that clock was always watching over us.
It was an iconic, Southwest Florida staple. Now, just like many of our favorite bars, shops and restaurants, we can find just a little piece to take us back to the good times.
“It’s devastating,” said Bob Delaney as he looked at the damage. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
If you walk around Times Square, you will find that the once vibrant community center is now the epicenter of our worst disaster.
“You see things on television and you see pictures, you see things on the Internet until you see it in person, you can’t imagine what the extent of the devastation really is,” Delaney said.
You used to be able to look up and see a block. Now to see what’s left, you have to look down to see only the concrete base and electrical wires exposed.
“This is absolutely incredible,” Thurner said.
The watch has been through hell and back, literally.
When plans were announced to renovate Times Square and replace the clock in 2020, the beach town went crazy.
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“Let it be known throughout the city that the clock will remain,” Mayor Ray Murphy said at the time.
And when the clock broke in early 2022, the city wasted no time in fixing it.
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“This was our ‘southernmost point’ in Fort Myers Beach, if you will,” Thurner said.
Precisely because of this, the company that produced the watch, Verdin bells and clockswants to help with the exchange.
They shared this message on social media:
Thank you for reaching out regarding the damage to the beloved Times Square Clock in Fort Myers Beach during Hurricane Ian.
The Verdin company is touched by the outpouring of care for this iconic watch. We know that our unique, decorative clocks are a proud landmark and symbol of continuity for many communities. We will do our best to help Fort Myers replace the clock in Times Square and bring life back to Times Square.
Our representative in Florida has been in contact with the appropriate officials at Fort Myer to offer our assistance in replacing the watch. We appreciate the many emergency response teams working day and night to help the residents of Fort Myers recover from this tragic event. When it’s time to start working on the clock, the Verdin company will be ready to help.
Our hearts go out to Fort Myers and all the Florida communities that suffered so much damage during the hurricane. We look forward to working together to replace the clock in Times Square and bring back the sense of spirit that this iconic clock brings to Fort Myers.
“It would be a great boost to the local spirit to restore it,” Thurner said.
“Maybe then we’ll know Fort Myers Beach is back,” Delaney added. “When the clock goes back.”
A city spokesman said they were unable to locate the watch. There’s a real chance they never will.
But will they rebuild it? That is a question that time will tell.