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Community Reeling in Hurricane Ian Aftermath

The community of southwest Florida is reeling in the aftermath from the devastation left by Hurricane Ian.

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Hurricane Pool Photo - Pool Industry Reeling in Hurricane Ian Aftermath

It’ll be months before the aftermath of Hurricane Ian is cleaned up in many parts of Florida. Pool professionals throughout the state are scrambling to deal with the cleanup after swimming pools were flooded, and in some cases destroyed by the incredible force of the storm.

We first began watching Tropical Storm Ian come up from Carribean over the weekend. Weather analysts predicted that as the storm progressively moved closer to Florida, that it would escalate into a Category 4 hurricane. After knocking out power to the entire country of Cuba, Ian would move in to deliver a one-two punch of high winds and torrential downpouring rains as the storm made landfall in Cayo Costa in southwestern Florida. The storm would indeed become a Category 4 hurricane that would leave areas like Fort Myers and Naples, FL and the surrounding region virtually flooded.

Hurricane Ian Footage Shows Swimming Pool Flooded in Minutes

Hurricane Ian Swimming Pool Photo - Photo Credit: Pink Shell
Hurricane Ian Swimming Pool Photo – Photo Credit: Pink Shell

The footage and photos posted to social media have been utterly shocking. One person posted imaged of the Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marine pool area. The first image shows the swimming pool still visible with the storm coming in. Ten minutes later by the timestamp on the image, the swimming pool and deck area was completely submerged under water.

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Hurricane Pool Photo - Photo Credit: Pink Shell
Hurricane Pool Photo – Photo Credit: Pink Shell

Community Dealing With Immense Structural Damage After Storm

The storm has caused building collapses and damage to swimming pool structures throughout the region. Many residents are still coming to grips with the extent of the destruction the storm left in its path. We spoke with Florida resident Stephanie Parcus who said, “This was life-altering devastation. We experienced a 500-year flood event impacting all the way from Daytona up to St. Augustine. My neighbor Cindy Cole took these photos during the storm because she could safely keep me posted while staying inside.”

It appears the entire wall and pool deck collapsed in the storm. Photo Credit: Cindy Cole
Neighbors surveyed the extent of the damage after the storm. – Photo Credit: Todd Honeycutt

Dealing With The Aftermath

Sanibel suffered major flooding as well with its causeway collapsing during the monster storm. Florida homeowners were told to evacuate in some areas, and water rescues were still ongoing in some areas as of last night. In total 74 people in Florida have lost their lives during the storm including one homeowner who had been trying to drain his swimming pool, early Thursday morning.

Many areas are still without power throughout many areas of Florida where flooding was the worst, relegating whole communities “off the grid”. Over 1,000 rescue personnel were dispatched to the Florida coas with more than 700 rescues completed.

In Florida however, the situation still remains uncertain for those still dealing with the aftermath. Property losses right now are projected at $47 billion. This could very well make it a more costly and destructive storm than Hurricane Andrew which destroyed 150,000 homes in 1992.

Many pool industry professionals find themselves struggling in the aftermath of the storm. Entire projects have been lost, as well as equipment and vehicles damaged. The FSPA has also organized a fund as well offering forgivable grants to members who need assistance to pay employees in the interim, make business repairs, pay insurance deductibles, etc.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/fspa-member-hurricane-ian-relief-fund

To learn more how you can help visit: https://industry.floridapoolpro.com/HurricaneRelief.aspx

Featured Photo Credit: Huffington Post – WIN MCNAMEE

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Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email [email protected] your story idea.

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Las Vegas Losing Classic Fire & Water Feature – Mirage Volcano Set to Close

Hard Rock confirms iconic Las Vegas fire feature, Mirage Volcano will close.

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Las Vegas Losing Classic Fire & Water Feature - Mirage Volcano Set to Close

The Mirage’s fiery volcano, which has been erupting regularly on the Las Vegas Strip for over 30 years, will soon cease activity forever.

Since MGM Resorts International sold the property to Hard Rock International last year, the resort has been undergoing a rebranding process, and the resort’s iconic volcano will not play a role in the new resort plan.

The time of the final eruption for the Mirage Volcano is unknown, and neither Hard Rock nor MGM officials would confirm exactly when the volcano would be dismantled. They plan to build another one of Hard Rocks guitar-shaped hotels in the space.

About The Mirage Volcano

When the resort opened on November 22, 1989, the volcano quickly became a fan favorite. A modeled three-acre paradise resembling the South Seas is routinely jolted awake by the ominous rumbles of the Mirage Volcano throughout the night. Rapid movement of water along with creative lighting resembles lava.

Exciting flames shoot over 60 feet into the air. If you’ve ever watched the show from the street, you can literally feel the searing heat. With music composed by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, more than 150 Fireshooters, developed by WET Design (who also created the Fountains of Bellagio), propel fireballs in a dramatic choreographed display.

The volcano was one of the first free attractions paving the way for others like the pirate battle at Treasure Island, the light shows and concerts at the Fremont Street Experience, and the Bellagio fountains.

From 8 p.m. until 11 p.m., the volcano at the Mirage continues its hourly eruptions. We took the opportunity to see this fiery spectacle, perhaps for the last time, while exhibiting at the PSP Deck Expo recently. The street was packed with onlookers watching the show on the street.

Elaine Wynn, who was married to casino magnate Steve Wynn at the time, first came up with the idea for the volcano as a great way to differentiate the Mirage from the competition.

In recent years, however, Las Vegas has been shifting away from a transparently thematic approach with its newest resorts, including the Cosmopolitan (2010), Circa (2020), and Resorts World (2021), and its reliance on free attractions and loss leaders, such as buffets and poker rooms, to bring in the bustling crowds.

Las Vegas Residents Eager To Keep Attraction

There has been a running sentiment amongst casino insiders that free attractions such as the Mirage Volcano have turned into a drain on profits. In light of the news that the Volcano is slated to be removed, many Las Vegas residents have expressed they do not want to see the attraction go.

“When I heard the news, I remember just wondering why this was going to happen,” Alden Gillespy, a longtime resident of Las Vegas and critic of removing the volcano, told the Las Vegas Sun. “The fact that they were going to tear down the volcano, that hit me personally.”

Every time it goes off, the Volcano in Las Vegas draws in hundreds of people, both young and old, to the Strip. The idea of tearing it down has been met with pushback. A group of passionate residents in Las Vegas has banded together to compel Hard Rock International and the city government to stop the new owner from demolishing what they say is a historic landmark. A petition to protect the volcano has over 9,000 signatures of support.

Among those who think the volcano should be preserved is UNLV history professor Michael Green.

“We lost a lot of hotels on the Strip because of the understandable need to build better, more modern hotels,” Green told the Sun. “The volcano is a reminder of how it helped trigger the modern Las Vegas boom.”

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Congratulations Pool Nation Award Winners!

Popular pool podcast hosts award show focused on inclusion

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Congratulations Pool Nation Award Winners!

Pool Nation held its second annual awards show in Las Vegas, NV at the International Pool Spa Expo. “Our favorite thing about these award shows is it’s like a high school reunion, only with people you want to hang out with. To us, it’s a place where we celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes; where we build each other up instead of tearing each other down,” said John Chakalis. The award show presented by the popular Pool Nation Podcast in collaboration with PoolPro recognizes achievement in a variety of different categories.

Award Winners by Category:

  • Variable Speed Pump of the Year: Hayward TriStar VS
  • Best Residential Pool Filter: AquaStar Pipeline Filter
  • Automation of the Year: Jandy Aqualink RS
  • Innovative Product of the Year: AquaStar Pipeline Filter
  • Salt System of the Year: Hayward Aquarite
  • Best Value Automation: Jandy iAquaLink IQ904
  • Favorite Net: Pirhana Net
  • Favorite Test Kit: Taylor K2005 Test Kit
  • Best Truck Wrap: Big Family Pools
  • Builder of the Year: Element Pool Company
  • Sales Rep of the Year: Korey Wax – Alpha West Marketing Group
  • Favorite Pool Vac System: Hammer Head Pool Vac
  • Heater of the Year: Jandy JXI Heater
  • Pool Guy of the Year: Chris Mele
  • Pool Girl of the Year: Michelle Watson
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Wayne Ivusich
  • Zac, John, & Edgar Award: Janey Flawless
  • 30 Under 40 Male: Alexander Jacobs
  • 30 Under 40 Female: Alisa Gotay
  • Pool Company of the Year 250 Pools or less: Round Rock Pool Pros
  • Pool Cleaner Suction Side: The Pool Cleaner, Hayward
  • Heat Pump of the Year: Hayward Heat Pro

The Pool Nation award show has become quite popular among pool professionals and is supported by the pool & spa community. The awards are unique in that nominees are voted on by peers from within the pool industry. With a focus on inclusion, Pool Nation host Edgar De Jesus said, “It’s clear that we all want a better industry but in order to do that, we all belong in the same room and the key to success is collaboration.”

Having had close interaction with a number of the winners, I can certainly attest to the validity of the awards being given out. Korey Wax is a phenomenal sales rep. Wayne Ivusich certainly deserved a lifetime achievement award for his 30-plus years with Taylor Technologies. Element Pool Company is a young and thriving pool builder in the San Antonio market, that we’ve written about here at Pool Magazine. To see a young up-and-coming pool company recognized as Builder of the Year is absolutely refreshing. Round Rock Pool Pros is also a pool company that has fast become recognized as a service industry leader and again, great to see some of these terrific companies getting the recognition they richly deserve.

The 30 Under 40 category recognized two young professionals that will undoubtedly remain a force in the industry, Alexander Jacobs of United Aqua Group and Alisa Gotay of 787 Serrano Construction LLC. Again, these are folks who you may have already encountered in the pool industry that are rapidly making a name for themselves.

In all of the product categories, this year each of the winners delivered an exciting product that helped propel the industry forward. Many of the best pool product category winners had products we’ve highlighted right here in Pool Magazine. Congratulations to all of the winners who deserve all the credit in the world for having a tremendous year. We wish all of them continued success moving forward into 2023.

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Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

One year into its national apprenticeship program, the association shares successes

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Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, November 14-20. National Apprenticeship Week showcases the value of Registered Apprenticeship programs and how they provide a critical talent pipeline to help our nation’s economy. During this week, PHTA is sharing updates on the PHTA Registered Pool Maintenance and Service Technician Apprenticeship Program™, which launched in August 2021.

The PHTA Apprenticeship Program is the only nationwide program registered with the U.S. Department of Labor for the pool, spa, and hot tub industry. It allows the pool profession to be more competitive with other industries that are also struggling for entry-level talent. This program is free for PHTA members and combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction and skills-based education.

Having a registered apprenticeship program means that pool maintenance and service is now considered a skilled trade, opening the doors with high school guidance counselors, veterans, and community workforce boards.

PHTA is pleased to announce that there are currently 23 companies across 15 states enrolled in the apprenticeship program, and nearly 30 apprentices have begun their on-the-job training. Apprentices receive 182 hours of online education through the PHTA online education portal.

The companies currently enrolled are:

  • Anderson Poolworks, Wilsonville, OR
  • Aquatic Dynamics Inc, Mt. Sinai, NY
  • Atlantic Solutions, Chapel Hill, NC
  • B&B Pool and Spa Center, Chestnut Ridge, NY
  • Gold Medal Pools, Lewisville, TX
  • Goodall Pools & Spas, Camp Hill, PA
  • Gorlin Pools, Lakehurst, NJ
  • Great Valley Pool Service, Frazer, PA
  • Idaho Pool Remodeling, Meridian, ID
  • Lehmann Pools and Spas, Mahwah, NJ
  • Luke Pool Service, Inc, Cumming, GA
  • NW Arkansas Pool & Spa, Rogers, AR
  • Penguin Pools, Waukesha, WI
  • Pool Doctor NM, LLC, Traverse City, MI
  • Poolwerx – Forest Lane, Dallas, TX
  • Preserve Pools, Summerville, SC
  • Pure Swim, Van Nuys, CA
  • Rin Robyn Pools, Hackettstown, NJ
  • Strong Refuge Pools, Wilsonville, OR
  • Swimming Pool Services, Waukesha, WI
  • The Better Pool Guy and Home Solutions, Inc, Clemont, FL
  • The Pool People, Inc, Eldersburg, MD
  • Vue Custom Pools, Greensboro, NC

“We consistently hear from PHTA members that workforce development and employee recruitment and retention are top business concerns,” says Sabeena Hickman, CAE, President & CEO of PHTA. “The pool and hot tub industry has so many wonderful career opportunities. We’re focused on not only delivering that message, but actively developing these apprentices into skilled, qualified workers who will become valued industry professionals. We are proud to be able to offer the PHTA Registered Pool Maintenance and Service Technician Apprenticeship Program and hope that more members take advantage of this opportunity in the coming year.”

In addition, PHTA and its Apprenticeship Task Force are currently developing a second apprenticeship program for pool construction laborers. PHTA is looking forward to launching this new program in early 2023.

To learn more about the PHTA Apprenticeship Program, visit https://apprenticeship.phta.org/ or contact Seth Ewing, PHTA Senior Director of Member Programs and Services, at [email protected] or 703-838-0083, ext. 159.

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About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with over 3,600 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub, and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge, and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety, and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer, and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit www.phta.org.

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