Cell phone: Surf at South Marco Beach
Surf courtesy of Tropical Storm Isaac.
Cell phone: Tigertail Beach after Isaac
Scenes from the beach.
Cell phone: Lowdermilk Park after Isaac
Scenes from the beach.
Folks in Goodland grabbed their measuring tapes Monday morning.
They wanted to keep track of the rising waters creeping ever closer to their front doors as Tropical Storm Isaac swept through the Gulf of Mexico.
"Everybody was on pins and needles," said Gene Chambers, 59, sitting later in a spitting rain beneath the awning at landmark Stan's Idle Hour restaurant and bar.
Winds whipping counterclockwise around Isaac and toward Southwest Florida, coupled with an inconveniently timed high tide, sent coastal waters surging ashore Monday, swelling canals and bays to the brim, overtopping seawalls in low-lying areas and possibly taking a bite of beaches.
Swiftly moving water covered Goodland Drive, the only way in and out of Goodland off State Road 92. Several trucks, including a United Parcel Service driver, risked passage, but others left their cars on dry road, loaded up their belongings and waded the half-mile to town in a foot or more of water.
At Stan's, onlookers watched "Water Over Road" warning signs float down the street. Men up to their waist in water chased down telephone poles that had gotten washed out of a field across the street, Chambers said.
The water overtook the picnic table seating area and dance floor in front of the outdoor stage at Stan's. A wooden plank built into the side of the outdoor High Tide Bar showed the water got as high as 6 feet above the seawall behind it.
"It lived up to its name," said Chambers, the Stan's maintenance man who put the plank there when he rebuilt the bar a few years ago.
The water started rising about midday, after it seemed as though vulnerable spots along the southern Collier County coast had escaped Isaac untouched.
Early birds like Vincent Parenti trickled into downtown Everglades City just after daybreak, standing outside the Circle K at about 7:30 a.m.
"We had a couple storms here that were pretty bad, but this has happened several times before. Like I said, it's just another day in paradise," he said.
After a high tide in the early afternoon Monday, several parts of the Everglades City and Goodland regions experienced minor flooding. Collier County Emergency Services Director Dan Summers called the surging water "a bit more than we anticipated" but not too serious.
Kenny Brown, whose office sits within sight of the entrance into Chokoloskee on Smallwood Drive, said about a foot of water covered the road at about noon and began receding shortly before 2 p.m.
"If I had to guess, it was probably a couple of feet higher than the normal high tide," Brown said.
Along the beaches, crashing waves churned up by Isaac prompted concern about erosion on already battered beaches and loss of sea turtle nests.
A spot check of Vanderbilt Beach, Clam Pass, Naples and Barefoot Beach on Monday was inconclusive about the fate of the beaches or whether erosion would be bad enough to trigger a request for federal emergency funds to repair them, Collier County coastal projects manager Gary McAlpin said.
McAlpin said too much of the beach still was underwater Monday, and it won't be until Friday or even next week before a determination can be made.
"It's just too early to tell," he said.
The same was true of Isaac's impact on sea turtle nests, said Maura Kraus, manager of the county's sea turtle monitoring program. She said she hopes to know the extent of the damage today.
About 600 sea turtle nests were flooded or washed away in late June by Tropical Storm Debby, leaving fewer than 500 on Collier County's beaches pre-Isaac.
"Some of the nests were getting overwashed with the storm tide, and some were very high and dry," Kraus said.
At the Naples Pier, Harbormaster Roger Jacobsen and two beach patrol workers considered reopening the western half of the boardwalk but, with sea spray hitting the deck and winds still at 41 mph at 11:30 a.m. Monday, they decided against it.
"Better to be safe than sorry," he said.
Firetrucks bumped along downtown Naples streets Monday, looking for trouble but not finding much of it. Back at the station from a fire alarm call on Neapolitan Way, firefighters began removing storm shutters from Station 1's windows and the building next door.
Inside the station, firefighters packed away the twin-packs of extra-crunchy peanut butter, strawberry Smucker's and flats of bottled water for the next storm.
Chambers, the Goodland maintenance man, sat with a dozen other locals Monday afternoon at Stan's Idle Hour watching the flood waters slowly find their way back into their banks.
"We're all lucky on this one," Chambers said, "It's a dry run for the real deal."
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