The Villages, FL

"Florida's friendliest hometown"

The Villages bills itself as the “Florida’s friendliest hometown.” (Credit: Vincent DeSantis)

This retirement community of over 100,000 residents lives up to this saying and more. Located just one hour Northwest of Orlando and covering 30 square miles, it has clubs, pools, games, shopping, recreation centers, a hospital, a radio and TV station, a newspaper, and more holes of golf in one place than anywhere else in the world!

On February 2, 2007, a tornado touched down just outside the center of this community in the wee hours of the morning. Hundreds of homes were damaged, with several being completely destroyed. The community’s developer responded immediately before sunup and diverted his construction crews from building houses to a massive cleanup operation in the hardest hit areas. Homeowners awoke to workmen nailing tarps on their roofs, boarding up windows, or cleaning up their yard of debris. Displaced residents were housed with friends or neighbors. No one asked for help as the residents took care of their own. A sea of hundreds of blue tarps on roofs was the only sign the next week that there had been a problem. I thank the developer, his contractors, the workmen who pitched in to help, and especially the residents who took care of everyone in need.

The Villages is Florida’s, if not the country’s “friendliest home town” for sure.

When a tornado struck, neighbors banded together to get through the tragedy. (Credit: Vincent DeSantis)