Community by Community: How Fay affected Collier

Fay in Everglades City

Immokalee faces Fay

— A community by community look at how Tropical Storm Fay affected Collier County.

Naples

High winds and occasional downpours didn’t stop Naples residents from heading to the beach this morning.

“This is a tradition,” said Naples resident Wendy Rowell. “You always have to do this after a hurricane.”

Rowell braved the weather to check out the waves at 13th Avenue South, just south of the Naples Pier. She wasn’t alone, either. More than a dozen Naples residents headed for the beach with surfboards this morning in hopes of riding a waves they rarely see on this coast.

Steven Pensavene, 18, of Naples, and his friends first hit the beach at 8 a.m. but Pensavene said the high winds made it hard to surf. They headed back out around 10:30 a.m., with hopes of giving it another try.

Leslie Arron brought her two children, Ben Cabral, 10, and Sam Cabral, 6, to Lowdermilk Beach on Tuesday morning, in hopes of catching some waves. The family lives up the street from the beach, and decided that gathering downed palm fronds in their front yard on Banyan Drive could wait.

“I slept through it,” Ben said. “I wasn’t scared.”

Local kiteboarder Mark Athanacio wasn’t fazed when he heard of a critically injured kiteboarder at Miami beach who tested fate in Fay’s winds Monday night.

He hit the beach Tuesday just south of the Naples Pier with his 11-meter red-and-blue parachute-like kite that would carry him on his board across the waves churned up by the tropical storm.

But Athanacio was struggling to keep control; his kite was too big for the double-digit winds whipping beneath the steel-gray clouds, he said.

“I could feel it flying over my head and wanted to pick me up,” the enthusiast added with a sigh.

He made a few adjustments that lessened the wind’s effects on the kite and headed back into the Gulf, launching off a wave, the red and blue arch lifting him high into the air and safely back down again.

— Staff writers Jenna Buzzacco and Tara MacLaughlin

Collier beaches

Beach monitors won’t know for sure until today, but Collier County beaches seem to have suffered only minor damage from Tuesday’s swipe from Tropical Storm Fay.

The storm ate into parts of the beach in the city of Naples, leaving a steep drop-off in places and putting sea turtle nests in jeopardy, Naples Natural Resources Manager Mike Bauer said.

Bauer said Tuesday afternoon’s high tide along the Collier County coast could do more damage. He planned another beach assessment today, he said.

Collier County beach monitor Al Madsen said county crews planned to get their first look at county beaches today but hadn’t gotten any reports of erosion threatening structures.

The Naples Pier, City Dock at Crayton Cove and low-lying Lowdermilk Park, often the site of storm overwash from the Gulf of Mexico, came through the storm unscathed, Naples waterfront operations director Mike Klein said.

- Staff writer Eric Staats

East Naples

At mid-day Tuesday, the East Naples neighborhood behind Naples Car Wash on U.S. 41 East had at least 12 inches of flood water standing and rising at the intersection of Manorca Avenue and Pelton Street, leaving Pelton Street impassable from U.S. 41 East.

“I don’t hear any pumps running,” said Lee Street resident George Buonocore wryly. He blamed the standing water on the lack of drainage pumps that could send excess to the Gateway Triangle retention pond,.

Buonocore, however, had a dry home. Harry Fentress, who lives in Henderson Creek Park farther east, didn’t. His girlfriend, who is pregnant, woke up at 4:30 a.m. to use the restroom and was ankle-deep in water in the low-lying home at 33 Sonderhen Drive.

“I was banging on people’s doors at 4:30 a.m. to get help moving furniture,” Fentress said, waving to neighbors he barely knows. He just moved in with his girlfriend a month ago. “It’s been a real battle.”

Around the corner on Derhenson Drive in Henderson Creek, William Cole was cranking up his generator in his carport after losing power. He has lived in Naples 30 years and says he takes the storms in stride. His hound dog, Gabby, doesn’t. Gabby barked all night, he said.

“I kept her up on my lap,” he said. “I sat on the front porch and watched it blow.”

In East Naples, most damage appeared to be to newly planted median landscaping along Radio Road. Branches and leaves covered both sides of the road west of Santa Barbara Road, near the Berkshire Lakes subdivision. A tree had fallen over, demolishing a portion of the community’s privacy wall.

“It was like a little Wilma,” said Berkshire Lakes resident Bob Schmidt, referring to the hurricane that ripped through Collier County in October 2005.

Side streets along Shadowlawn Drive were flooded and a few low-lying lots were covered with water, putting a few homes in danger of water damage.

— Staff writers Jonathan Foerster and Liz Freeman

Golden Gate

Scattered stoplights along Golden Gate Parkway were out in Golden Gate between Santa Barbara and Collier Boulevards on Tuesday morning. At Golden Gate and Coronado Parkways the road was flooded; the driveway and road in front of Fire Station 70 had become a small lake. Streets throughout the area were wet, and some were impassable.

Golden Gate resident Abdul Sarder got into his car at about 7:30 a.m. to drive to work, but a few minutes later, he realized he wasn’t going to get far.

The street was flooded.

Sarder, who lives on 41st Street SW in Golden Gate, drove back home and resigned himself to walking.

He got soaked. But he looked on the bright side. At least the BP gas station where he works is only a quarter of a mile away, he said, standing behind the register Tuesday morning. Sarder opened the gas station at 8 a.m., three hours later than usual thanks to the storm.

****

The pet shop owner couldn’t leave his critters alone Monday night – he was just too worried.

Mike Shepherd, who owns Pets Plus at Golden Gate Parkway and Santa Barbara Boulevard, got in his car and drove to the pet shop at 4 a.m. Tuesday.

“Before I left last night everybody was really quiet,” Shepherd said. “It’s like they knew something was coming.”

When he arrived at 4 a.m., the birds were twittering away, and only the two 11-week-old macaws seemed nervous, Shepherd said. But they’re just babies, so young that they can’t stand on perches yet.

The macaws, and the rest of the crew including snakes, hamsters, parakeets and fish, were all safe and sound. Dry, too.

The 5,000-square-foot pet store weathered the storm pretty well, with just a little water leaking onto the floor in the back room.

“We call this back room the bird room,” Shepherd said, as he pushed through a blue swinging door marked ‘Employees Only.’ “We have rodents for the snakes back here, along with birds and that guy over there, the blue and gold macaw.”

A puddle of water wet the floor beneath the macaw’s cage, but it didn’t damage any inventory, he said.

“That guy, the macaw, he says ‘bye’ to me every night when I shut the last light off,” Shepherd said. “I have finches, lovebirds, cockatiels back here. All the little spoiled rotten critters.”

“I was worried about them.”

Tuesday, Shepherd opened the shop at 10 a.m., and business was slow in the morning. But, he expected it to pick up in the afternoon, when everyone got bored sitting around at home.

Just then, the store phone rang.

“Pets Plus, Mike speaking,” he said. A pause. “We’re here. Yes, ... unless Mother Nature turns that sucker around and brings it back at us.”

It was a customer, on his way to buy a jumbo rat for his hungry pet snake.

— Staff writer Katy Bishop

Collier hospitals

Emergency rooms in Collier County were quiet during the storm, as expected, and traffic slowly began to pick up Tuesday afternoon.

Physicians Regional Medical Center-Pine Ridge saw two patients in the afternoon for cuts related to removing storm shutters, and Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard had one patient who was treated for cuts, said Lisa Gardiner, spokeswoman for the hospital system.

“All of the lacerations were minor,” she said. “But during the storm, the emergency rooms were really quiet and uneventful.”

The emergency rooms at NCH Downtown Naples and North Naples hospitals likewise were quiet during the storm and by afternoon were getting busier, said NCH spokeswoman Debbie Curry.

“We have not seen an influx of patients because of the storm,” she said. “There does not appear to be any significant injuries.”

— Staff writer Liz Freeman

Everglades City

While most of Everglades City and the surrounding area enjoyed the wet weather Tuesday morning, Mayor Sammy Hamilton Jr. began to recover from a long night assessing damage. Hamilton said water reached 2½ feet deep in some places in the city and three or four homes had flood damage.

“The water kills us,” Hamilton said. “The wind is no problem. The city is built strong.”

Hamilton also expressed concern about the city’s water and sewer plant, which already needed about $60,000 in repairs, he said. Hamilton said he would get another report on the plant later in the day.

— Staff writer Liam Dillion

Palmetto Ridge High School shelter

Some 45 residents with special needs and 11 caregivers took refuge at a Collier County special needs shelter at Palmetto Ridge High School, according to Collier Department of Health spokeswoman Deb Millsap.

Millsap added that the health department was checking on the power at the homes of those in the shelters to make sure they had electricity when they returned home.

At a separate American Red Cross special needs shelter in the high school’s gym, 27 residents took refuge, said shelter manager Donna Barineau.

With her husband having recently undergone surgery, Estates resident Virginia Villa said that heading to the shelter was the only option.

“You never know with a hurricane,” said Villa, 55.

— Staff writer Elysa M. Batista

Marco Island

McDonald’s and 7-Eleven were life-savers on Marco Island Tuesday morning.

When residents were still without power, the two stores were serving hot coffee and, at McDonald’s, Egg McMuffins were available.

“People were lined up at the 7-Eleven,” said Anna Niznick. “They were grabbing the coffee pot before it was even full.”

She walked her dog, Bandit, through the Tigertail area of Marco Island around 9 a.m., as many residents were still waking and peering outside to assess the damage. With no power, she had few options other than to sit tight and enjoy a day off.

“It wasn’t as bad as Wilma,” she said. “Nothing’s as bad as Wilma.”

Once the McDonald’s on North Collier Boulevard opened at 9:30 a.m., residents were lined up around the building for one of the only hot breakfasts that could be had in town. Some 8,000 homes and businesses were without power as of 5 a.m., but Bruce McComas said he got a call at 11 a.m. from a neighbor who told him the power was back on.

McComas, 34, said he was awake most of the night checking on boats around the island. The self-employed dock manager said there was little damage to report.

“I heard about a couple of screens that were ripped,” McComas said as he waited for the McDonald’s line to inch forward. “But, we’ve had worse.”

— Staff writer Leslie Williams

Copeland

Lightning struck twice for Arita Parker. Or more precisely, a royal palm branch.

The 74-year-old Copeland resident heard “this tremendous wham” at 5:10 a.m., and when light came through her windows about an hour later, she discovered a royal palm branch had broken an 8-inch-by-8-inch hole in her guest bedroom ceiling and splintered into the mattress below.

Three years ago during Hurricane Wilma, a similar branch fell into her kitchen.

When neighbors discovered the palm tree in her roof, first they teased her: “You again?” they said. Then seven men helped remove the branch and cover the mobile home with a blue tarp.

“They kept my coffee pot busy,” Parker said.

Parker’s home was the only one with major damage in Copeland, a small town about six miles north of Everglades City. Asked about her rotten luck, Parker said actually it wasn’t all that bad. She had planned to sleep in the guest bedroom last night before she thought the better of it.

“That says something about my luck,” she said.

Copeland was without water service and electricity for much of the morning, but both were restored by 2 p.m.

— Staff writer Liam Dillion

Immokalee

While Immokalee residents picked up debris left around their homes by Tropical Storm Fay, growers were determining damage to their crops.

Chuck Obern, owner of C&B Farm, said it was too early to determine the overall damage to crops, including eggplants, peppers and watermelons.

Obern said the plants were small and he hopes they will fare well after receiving more than 5 inches of rain. He added that there will be a change in schedule for the crops.

At Immokalee High School, more than 100 people spent the night in the school’s shelter, bedding down on 50 full mattresses and 40 cots. American Red Cross officials said the average shelter-goers were families with three or four kids.

By 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, only a family of five was left.

A few miles from the high school, the Immokalee Friendship House also served as a hurricane shelter.

The shelter housed 15 storm evacuees, in addition to its 51 residents, said Monica Fish, director of Immokalee’s homeless shelter.

_ Tracy Miguel

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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