Hurricane Irma: Most of Marco Island's landmarks withstood storm
Marco Island began to put the pieces back together Tuesday.
Blue skies and bright sunshine replaced Hurricane Irma's whipping winds and rain, casting a clearer light on the condition of some of the island's landmarks.
City Hall, which has exterior walls composed almost entirely of glass, was unscathed, although there were several large uprooted trees in the parking lot.
Like City Hall, Mackle Park and its new community center, which cost $3.5 million and is scheduled for construction completion Saturday, had no apparent structural damage, just downed trees and areas of standing water.
Both the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort and the Marco Island Hilton Beach Resort and Spa also appeared to have escaped the worst of the storm. The Marriott closed Friday morning, and the Hilton already was closed for renovations.
Crews used pressure washers to scour sand out of the Snook Inn's kitchen and off its parking lot Tuesday.
Even before Irma struck, co-owner Dennis Passini had gotten his name on a waiting list for post-storm chickee hut repairs. He was expecting help to arrive this week.
Irma struck the day before the business' two-week summer break, but employees were volunteering their time to get the restaurant ready to reopen, maybe by Oct. 1, Passini said.
"That'll be a big party for me," he said.
Prior to Hurricane Irma's arrival, staff from the Marco Island Center for the Arts worked together to move the outdoor art inside and sandbag the doors in the hopes of preventing too much damage.
"We lost one statue that we couldn’t detach ... obviously, Irma took care of that," Debbie Kuindersma, the center's business manager, said with a laugh, pointing to an empty pedestal and its former inhabitant lying several yards away.
"We lost some cabinets out back, and there's one spot inside where some water came in, but overall we're in great shape," Kuindersma said.
The Marco Island Historical Museum, which just installed its own outdoor art exhibit, was also safe and secure; a single uprooted tree was the only sign of Irma.
That was a drastic contrast to the Marco Island Public Library across the street. The library looked as though it already has been decorated for Halloween, with gnarled and twisted trees, turned black from Irma's salt water, occupying every inch of its parking lot.
Marco Island Academy was in pretty good shape and although it will have to reopen as a school eventually, for now it's actually serving as a sort of base for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Kelvin Bartee, member of Arizona Task Force 1, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force based in Phoenix, said his team arrived in Florida from Texas, where it was assisting with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. It has been making its way through Florida since Sunday.
"We started in Orlando, and then we went through Tampa and now we're here, where it seems like things are relatively OK," Bartee said. "It could have been a lot worse, and we're glad that it wasn't."
The team has been primarily helping out Goodland, which appears to have received the brunt of the storm. Even there, though, residents are grateful.
"Overall, it looks like we lucked out," said Scott Bowers, who just moved to Goodland a year ago. "I've only seen a few units with roof damage. Otherwise, it's mostly superficial stuff."
At Rose Marina, workers tore out the flooring in the Ship's Store flooded by Irma's storm surge. Others began to take dozens of boats out of hurricane storage.
General Manager Dan High pumped gas into the tanks of a long line of storm responders' cars and trucks while residents carrying red gas containers stood in another line alongside.
"I would say they're still shocked," High said. "But they know a lot of people got it worse."