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Company is coming on Saturday: Welcome to our disaster area!

October 28, 2022
By Marcy Shortuse

We’ve got power and internet outages, a cell phone tower lodged in our bakery, piles of debris clogging our side streets and more piles along the main road, beach accesses that are closed and a plethora of workers and trucks roaming all over the island … and the bridge is set to open to the public on Saturday.

Welcome to paradise!

Of course we say that tongue-in-cheek, because we do miss our visitors. There’s just a lot of work we need to get done before we can breathe a sigh of relief.

Here are a few items of interest you might want to know before you head over the bridge to come see us:

• As of right now, and for an indefinite period of time, the county beach accesses are closed. Just this week the pavilions and other amenities at the Range Light beach were pulled out, as they were damaged. We aren’t sure if that restroom is in working order. 

Many of the accesses north of 5th Street are filled with debris and even the ones only half-filled with debris make it difficult to turn around once you’re in there. 

We are nowhere near the end when it comes to cleaning up our debris, construction or otherwise.

We only have one truck allotted to us from Lee County, through an interlocal agreement with Charlotte County. Charlotte County has always provided us with our trash removal service and now they are in charge of our debris removal. This truck has the words “Bunyan” on it, and it has two trailers attached to it.

By the time that truck fills up both trailers, hauls to the landfill, waits in line to dump it and then comes back, you’re looking at maybe four loads of debris picked up per day here on Gasparilla Island … but it seems like we have an infinite amount of debris to take.

There might be relief in sight as far as possibly having an incinerator company come, or even getting another truck. We will know more next week. Right now, it’s slow going with debris pickup.

You can pay a private company to remove your debris. In fact, just today we are hearing about someone going door to door and asking homeowners if they want their rubbish removed for the cost of $700. We know nothing about this company, but if you don’t pay until they remove the debris and they do a good job, providing you have $700 to spend, why not?

If you are a gated community on the island and you pay someone to remove all of the debris from the streets there, but the contractor only piles it up on the main road instead of taking it away, that really isn’t playing nice either. 

But we digress.

If you are going to visit here and will be traveling on side streets or areas off the beaten path, expect to possibly get a flat tire, a broken taillight or headlight lens, maybe even a dent or two in your vehicle. 

It is very hard to maneuver around things right now, and sometimes you’ll find yourself having to back up into a pile of brush, a rock, sometimes a pile of brush hiding a rock. 

Just know it’s a possibility.

Hudson’s Grocery is open again, but with limited hours – 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Get breakfast beforehand and grab your snacks and drinks prior to closing. Kappy’s at the north end is not open for business, but they have been serving free hot lunches to the hurricane workers and we appreciate them very much for it.

If you have come here to scam or steal from our residents, you will pay a great price. This is not an entirely safe place yet, for tourist or criminal. There are more people on edge than usual, more strangers around than usual and people who have damage to their homes that leave them potentially open to crime. 

With that being said, we also have a great number of residents here who own weapons and conceal/carry.

Don’t come here to do wrong … it will not go right for you. And we don’t need another mess to clean up.

No negative reviews on Facebook or Yelp, please. If you go to your favorite beach and your foot gets cut, we are sorry. If you can’t park near your favorite restaurant because so many spots are taken up by debris piles, our apologies. 

We want you to support our local restaurants and businesses that are open, there is no question. If they have a limited menu or shorter hours, we are sorry. Things will be normal again, one day.

But if you are coming just to look at damage and clog up the roads, which creates more confusion for us … please just stay home and look at the photos online.