In this Oct. 14, 2018 photo Dena Frost salvages an unbroken clay pot from the wreckage of her pottery business in Mexico Beach, Fla. For decades, the town has persisted as a stubbornly middlebrow enclave on what residents proudly refer to as Florida's "Forgotten Coast." Businesses are locally owned. While some locals owned posh homes that overlooked the beach on stilts, many lived in mobile homes. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

Could rebuilding ruin 'mom-and-pop' Florida beach town?

October 16, 2018 - 8:27 am

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Residents of Florida's Mexico Beach worry that the town's "mom-and-pop" character could become a casualty of Hurricane Michael.

The town of about 1,000 people was nearly wiped off the map by the storm last week. It wrecked the mayor's hardware store and the only grocery in town. It splintered beachfront condos and smashed the inn where tourists have stayed for four decades. It reduced seafood restaurants to rubble and literally broke the bank.

Mayor Al Cathey liked to boast that "there's no corporate America" in Mexico Beach. Local ordinances have kept out high-rise condos and resort hotels.

But now, the mayor and others fear that could change if property owners choose to sell rather than rebuild.