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Dolphin Key Resort helped community after Hurricane Irma

May 18, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

One local business owner said the strongest emotion she felt following Hurricane Irma was how her core staff remained loyal and calm, as well as the Cape Coral community reaching out to one another in a time of need.

"I reached out to help the community, but the community really came out to help me too," said Magdalena Tengroth, managing partner of Dolphin Key Resort. "I don't know how we were like a little oasis that had water and electricity in the middle of a city that had none. So many people were very helpful to one another."

They began preparing the Tuesday before Hurricane Irma passed through Southwest Florida.

Article Photos

Dolphin Key Resort managing partner Magdalena Tengroth, center, stands with members of her core staff who remained loyal and calm before, during and after Hurricane Irma. From left to right: Michael Storti, Gabriella Stubbs, Tengroth, Jim Heady, and Ernie Aviles. John Turcotte was unable to be present for the photo.

"We took in everything that was outside. Everything that could fly anywhere," she explained.

The preparations included moving bedding and furniture from the downstairs upstairs into the resort, as well as placing furniture on beds in the downstairs rooms. Tengroth said they also went through the property and tied everything down, as well as rolled up the tiki flaps that came down.

The alcohol and televisions were taken down from the tiki hut and moved indoors.

"We were worried about water and that's why we moved a lot of things upstairs and things that could fly around," she said.

Fortunately, the resort had only minor damage from trees.

Tengroth, who did not evacuate until the morning of the storm, said they had some people that came to the resort because they were afraid of not having anywhere to evacuate.

"I gave them keys to a room upstairs," Tengroth said, adding that she told them, "If you feel scared, here are two keys, come on in."

With so much of Cape Coral losing water and electricity, their lobby became full of people seeking a place to stay after the storm.

"We had a lot of people come in and we had to argue a little bit with online traveling agencies to please stop booking people because the locals needed us," she said. "People were trying to book hotel rooms online at the same time we had a lobby full of people."

All 100 rooms were full. Tengroth said they did not charge for extra people or pets.

"We had a lot of animals," she said.

Most people flocked to the resort right after the storm.

"It was hot. Some needed AC, somewhere to sleep and get cleaned and eat something," she said.

A resort typically staffed with up to 45 people only ran with five people following Hurricane Irma.

"I literally stood in the lobby checking people in with the general manager and gave people their sheets," Tengroth said, adding that most people understood they were understaffed due to the storm.

Some of her staff stayed at the hotel, as well as personnel from neighboring businesses who needed a place to stay.

The one thing that stuck out after Hurricane Irma passed through was how much the community came together to provide a helping hand. A couple from Ragged Ass Saloon came in and helped cook in the kitchen, as well as one of their relatives, who provided karaoke for those staying at the resort.

"'People are upset and sad of what has happened to their homes. Do you think we should start some karaoke?'" she said of what the gentleman asked. "He did it out of the goodness of his heart. He went up and started karaoking."

In addition, others from the community came in and helped clean rooms, while some helped bus tables and carry chairs out for people.

When asked what she would change in regards to preparing with this upcoming hurricane season, she said nothing, they would prepare - and react - the same way.



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