Twins prepare for spring training in Fort Myers, still in hurricane recovery
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins start Spring Training on Feb. 15 in Fort Myers, Florida where the effects of Hurricane Ian are still being felt. Ian hit Southwest Florida four months ago. The recovery is still ongoing.
"There's still debris, there's still trees piled up on the side of the highways," said Twins pitcher Chris Paddack. "You're always seeing semi-trucks with palm trees or trash or whatever it might be."
The Twins play their first spring training game on February 25th. TwinsFest is happening now in Minnesota. First baseman and outfielder Alex Kiriloff is up from Fort Myers where he's lived for seven years.
"The areas that usually you're accustomed to visiting might not be there or available right away. I'm sure there will be some places to stay further from the water," said Kiriloff.
If you're traveling to Fort Myers be aware, Lee County Tourism says 67.3% of lodging options are open. Which means the rest are still closed. Visitors should consider booking accommodations now.
"If you're gonna stay in the area around Fort Myers you're probably going to pay a little bit more, if you can find rooms," said Twins President and CEO Dave St. Peter. "You might need to think about staying a little bit further away and driving in but the reality is that southwest Florida is open for business. Twins spring training is going to proceed as it normally does and we expect to see thousands and thousands of Twins fans making that trip."
The Twins facilities suffered wind and water damage, but are in relatively good shape. Paddack has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery there and getting his first taste of Fort Myers.
"I was talking to some of the coaches and they said it could have been a lot worse," said Paddack. "They are lucky that it wasn't as bad as some places but it definitely got hit."
The Twins' Lee County Sports Complex was used for FEMA and first responders when Hurricane Ian hit. The Twins have continued to help provide over a million meals to workers and displaced people. Recently staff flew down to help clean up.
"The way everyone came together, helped each other, it's pretty special," said Kiriloff, commenting on the entire area's efforts. "Obviously, I think everything will be rebuilt and be stronger than it was before."
Click here for a list of which restaurants and other businesses are open.
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