$5 million the estimated value of 155 county residences destroyed by Hurricane Ian in unincorporated areas

On Oct. 14, contractors surpassed storm debris collection total following Hurricane Irma in 2017

The latest detailed estimate of Hurricane Ian’s residential damage in unincorporated Sarasota County, based on assessments undertaken by Sarasota County Planning and Development Services staff, is $134,902,031, The Sarasota News Leader learned this week.

That figure had been revised slightly since the News Leader requested an update last week. The total in the report the News Leader received on Oct. 13 was $134,902,037.

Planning and Development Services staff provided a graphic on Oct. 19 to fulfill the News Leader’s latest public records request for the data. That had a few more details than the Oct. 13 report.

Public Records Coordinator Cynthia West noted that the Planning and Development staff conducted its last field assessment on Oct. 11.

The Oct. 19 graphic showed that the total number of residences assessed was 17,675. Of those, 7,398 had damage, it added.

The value of the 155 homes that were destroyed was $5 million, the graphic said. The estimate for the 958 that suffered major damage was $31 million; for the 1,886 with minor damage, the figure was $43 million. Another 4,399 residences were affected, with that total put at $55 million.

Altogether, the graphic said, staff found no problems at 10,277 residences.

A note at the bottom of the graphic explained that the estimated residential damage amount was calculated on the basis of the “assessment category and building value.” Further, it said that the “data in this overview is a snapshot and may vary” from other reports that Planning and Development has issued.

Storm debris collections continue

Sarasota County’s Communications Department staff has continued to provide daily updates on storm debris removal over the past week.

On Oct. 14, the staff announced that more right of way vegetative storm debris had been collected following Hurricane Ian than the total amount of debris collected after Hurricane Irma struck the state in 2017.

The total as of Oct. 14, the report said, was 304,381 cubic yards, with the collections having begun in unincorporated areas on Oct. 6

Altogether, the release added, 300,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris was removed by contractors working over four months in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Staff reminds homeowners that they can check online to learn when collections have been scheduled in their neighborhoods: https://sarco.maps.arcgis.com/apps/instant/lookup/index.html?appid=507a8ef6a66748039acc0803ec429ffb

These are the daily figures since Oct. 14:

  • Through Oct. 15 — 427,430 cubic yards.
  • Through Oct. 16 — 484,522 cubic yards.
  • Through Oct. 17 — 548,731 cubic yards.
  • Through Oct. 18 — 614,532 cubic yards.
  • Through Oct. 19 — 684,180 cubic yards.

Staff also continues to point out that anyone wishing to self-haul and self-unload storm debris may do so at the following sites:

  • Rothenbach Park, located at 8650 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota.
  • Jackson Road Transfer Station, standing at 250 S. Jackson Road in Venice.

To use a public drop-off site, an individual must show proof of county residency, staff advises.

Additionally, county staff is asking the public to keep in mind the following recommendations, which will facilitate the collections of the debris:

  • Maintain your drains — Ensure that your roads and storm drains are clear of debris. It is important to keep debris out of ditches, roadside swales and storm drains. Debris can block drainage, causing flooding and degrading water quality.
  • Place your pile — Make sure that your debris pile is easily accessible to the contractors, away from vehicles, telephone poles, fire hydrants, street signs, light poles, mailboxes, or anything that could be damaged during collection.
  • Bundle and bin it — Place smaller debris such as leaves, moss, and twigs in bundles or trash bins. (See more details below, from a County Commission discussion with the county’s Solid Waste Department director.)
  • Sort and separate — Keep trash and other items, such as smaller debris, away from your storm debris pile.

Additionally, staff emphasized in the advisory, “Burning of any storm debris is prohibited in the County Code and can adversely impact the community’s air quality and create nuisance conditions. Burning debris should not be performed.”

Waste Management update on regular collections

In a related matter, county staff has reported that, following Hurricane Ian’s passage through the area, Waste Management noted a 30% increase in the amount of garbage and a 50% rise in the amount of yard waste placed curbside for collection.

“Waste Management staff is working six days per week to collect items and return to regular collection schedules,” the report added. “However, yard waste quantities are still well above normal.”

The report points out that Waste Management is collecting up to 3 cubic yards of yard waste materials from each residence, during regular weekly pickups, until the company’s crews “are caught up.”

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as our vendor continues to collect the large volume of yard waste materials,” county staff added.

City of Sarasota reports on post-Hurricane Ian conditions

An Oct. 14 report from Sarasota Mayor Erik Arroyo included the following details, post-Ian:

  • Yard waste —Although regular collections were suspended, those resumed this week. See the related article in this issue.
  • Storm debris —The City’s debris hauler has 20 crews actively picking up debris as quickly as possible.”

Arroyo added, “We’re pleased to announce a hotline has been established to answer residents’ questions. Call 941-584-9533 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday to speak with a contractor representative about residential debris pickup.

Please be patient. Those who lived through Hurricane Irma in Sarasota may recall it took months to collect all the storm debris from the neighborhoods. It’s estimated Hurricane Ian produced twice as much debris and it will take time to collect.”

  • “Parks —The parks throughout the city were hit hard,” Arroyo noted, “with many trees damaged or toppled. Our incredible Parks and Recreation team is making good progress cutting, clearing and moving the debris to the right-of-way where it will be collected. [Federal Emergency Management Agency] FEMA contractors arrived [on the morning of Oct. 13] and began removing some of the larger fallen trees and we expect that work to continue for several weeks. In addition to trees, irrigation and lighting systems and other infrastructure was damaged in the parks. Assessments and restoration efforts are underway.”
  • Lido Beach —“We have an excellent report with Lido Beach!” Arroyo wrote. “The recent Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction project, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, lived up to its name. The newly installed groins performed well and storm impacts were minimal to our beautiful beach.”

Update on county libraries and parks

All but three Sarasota County Public Libraries have reopened to the public, county staff reported as of late Oct 19. For locations and hours, visit scgov.net/library.

  • The Shannon Staub Library, standing at 4675 Career Lane in North Port, continues to operate as a Disaster Recovery Center from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
  • The Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library, located at 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd. in Venice, and the Elsie Quirk Library, standing at 100 W. Dearborn St. in Englewood, also remain closed to the public. The administrative staff for the county libraries “is working to open these locations as soon as safely possible for both library staff and patrons,” the update said.
  • The closest open libraries to those still closed are the North Port Library, located at 13800 S. Tamiami Trail in North Port, and the William H. Jervey, Jr. Venice Public Library, standing at 300 S. Nokomis Ave., S. in Venice.
  • Due dates for items checked out at the Jacaranda, Elsie Quirk and Shannon Staub libraries have been extended to Oct. 31. If a person has items reserved for pick-up at a closed location, the report explained, library staff will be in touch with that individual to learn whether the person could pick up the items at another library.
  • “Please remember that Sarasota County libraries do not charge overdue fines so if your library is not open, you can wait to return your items or you can return your items to another location,” the report says.

To learn whether a particular county park is open, visit this link, staff notes: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/publish?EQBCT=57ec082af1314a6083341d959fc00ddd.

When The Sarasota News Leader checked the parks list late in the morning of Oct. 20, it found, for examples, that Bee Ridge Park, standing at 4430 S. Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota, and Big Slough Preserve, located at 21075 State Road 72, are only partially open.

For other examples, Blind Pass Beach Park, located at 6725 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, and Boyd Park, which is nestled within the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Higel Avenue on north Siesta Key, both remain closed. The note for Blind Pass Beach Park said that a tree contractor was at work in that facility.

Further, Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, whose south entrance is located at 10201 S. Tamiami Trail in Venice, is closed until county staff can conduct a post-Hurricane Ian evaluation.

Warm Mineral Springs remains closed

The Oct. 19 Hurricane Ian update from county staff included details from the City of North Port about the conditions at Warm Mineral Springs, which has drawn international visitors for decades.

“Hurricane Ian caused significant damage to Warm Mineral Springs Park,” the report pointed out. “Upon inspection, it has been determined that the park at this time cannot meet the criteria for safe reopening,” the report added.

To safely reopen to the public, the City of North Port facility must have the following, the report explained:

  • Reliable power.
  • A safe supply of drinking water.
  • Windows, roofs and exterior walls that prevent severe water intrusion.
  • Working air conditioning.
  • Indoor air quality that has been assessed by an industrial hygienist.
  • Water quality that has been assessed by a state-certified (Florida Department of Health) contractor.
  • Storm debris must be removed and stored in a secure location.
  • Professional assessment of buildings that deems them safe to occupy.

FPL update

As of late morning on Oct. 20, the News Leader found that only 264 of Florida Power & Light Co.’s customers in the county remained without electricity.

The company has 289,844 customers altogether in Sarasota County.

Lee County still had 218 FPL customers without power, the chart showed, while Collier had 327, and DeSoto had nine.

An alert at the top of the webpage points out, “We’ve essentially restored all customers impacted by Hurricane Ian but remain committed to helping those whose properties suffered extreme damage.” The alert added that resources are available at FPL.com/help.