5 years after Hurricane Charley, Punta Gorda is better - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

5 years after Hurricane Charley, Punta Gorda is better

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PUNTA GORDA, FL (AP) - Five years later, the hurricane-ravaged town of Punta Gorda is celebrating a comeback that Gov. Charlie Crist called "nothing short of remarkable."

The southwest Florida city of about 17,000 residents was pummeled by Hurricane Charley on Aug. 13, 2004, causing more than $3 billion in damage. Fourteen deaths were blamed on the storm.

But Punta Gorda has come back faster and better than many had expected. The town now boasts a rebuilt and spruced up downtown and many new hotels and restaurants. The centerpiece is a new events center replacing an aging auditorium that was walloped by the storm.

Crist and other officials were on hand at a ceremony at that venue Thursday morning to commemorate the anniversary.

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