Cleanup planned for North Port community still feeling impacts of Hurricane Ian

Nearly five months after Hurricane Ian, the cleanup continues at Harbor Cove in North Port – both on land and in the water. 

"Sometimes you can just go along and see a piece and throw a grapple hook out and pull it up to, but we pulled out some roofs this weekend," said Doug Anderson. 

After fixing damage to his home, Anderson joined others in working to clear their canals leading to the Myakka River. 

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"I’ve been helping pull metal out, and we have the use of a small tractor here in the community," he said. 

Two-hundred homes were destroyed at Harbor Cove, and a lot of damage was blown into the river. Some of the debris is just too hard and too big for residents to retrieve. 

Sarasota Bay Watch plans on bringing help this weekend. They will host a cleanup at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, February 25. 

"It’s crazy how much stuff is out there. There are big pieces, 30 feet long by 40 feet wide, sticking 10 feet up in the air, things way up high in the mangroves," said John Ryan, a volunteer with Sarasota Bay Watch. 

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Suncoast Aqua Ventures, Suncoast Waterkeeper, North Port Friends of Wildlife and residents of Harbor Cove will use kayaks and small boats to clear debris from the Myakka River. 

"What makes it even more important in this case is the Myakka River is a preserved river," said Ryan. "It’s a protected river. Wild and scenic river. Before the storm it was exceptionally clean. It was just a place where you didn’t hardly see any debris, it was a beautiful clean nature. Now it’s got I wouldn’t be surprised if there was 100,000 pounds of debris spread across all the mangrove islands. It’s a very big number."

Some items, like roofs, will be too large for this clean up. There are two protected areas with bird nestings that will have to be avoided for now. 

"It’s challenging but in a good way. It’s a really nice place that deserves this kind of care," said Ryan. 

Anderson plans on joining in, along with several other community members. 

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"There’s stuff in the water you can’t see. It’s great that they can be here and make a difference," he said. 

They hope to get all of the debris left behind by Hurricane Ian eventually. 

"We certainly will get thousands of pounds, but it’s going to take a long time to get it all," said Ryan. 

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