Sarasota County continues cleanup one month after Hurricane Ian
VENICE, Fla. - One month after Hurricane Ian devastated parts of the Tampa Bay area, the cleanup continues in Sarasota County, with several communities still waiting for working electricity and water.
At Ramblers Rest RV Resort in Venice, which sits on the edge of the Myakka River, some residents recently arrived to a situation that's worse than they expected.
"Once I got here, I had no idea how bad it could be," said Ian Brown, who lives at the park part-time and arrived last week. "Structurally, [my home] is not too bad. The real damage is the water."
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Residents have spent the last four weeks clearing out their homes and piling their ruined belongings along the roads in the community.
Penelope and Ernie Card arrived from Maine Thursday and were shocked to see the debris littered throughout the park and the entire park still without power, water and waste service.
"I was depressed. I was deflated," said Penelope Card. "I believe a lot of [residents] are very discouraged because we need power, water and sewer to do any cleaning at all and a lot are just walking away from the houses. They're coming down here, they can't stay, they can't live here."
Sarasota County Emergency Services, meanwhile, held a news conference Friday to update the community on the cleanup effort.
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Emergency Services Director Rich Collins said the county's 311 call center has responded to more than 25,000 calls since Hurricane Ian, while also assisting the City of North Port while their communications system was down.
Sarasota County crews have collected 1.2 million cubic yards of vegetation so far.
"It is equal to almost 10 years of yard waste that would be picked up normally," said Collins. "This has been a long 30 days."
Ramblers Rest is owned by Equity Lifestyle. In a statement, Randy Berman, a spokesperson for the company, explained the situation to FOX 13:
"The property incurred substantial wind damage from the hurricane and flooding damage from the overflow of the Myakka River, which submerged the water, sewer, and electrical infrastructure, including the pedestals that provide power to the RV sites at the property. We have taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to the storm remediation, including having representatives at the property manager, district manager and senior vice president levels on site each day to assist customers and oversee the cleanup project and the numerous contractors on site. Following Hurricane Ian, the water took more than 10 days to recede from the property and allow access for us and our vendors to begin storm cleanup. Since this time, we have had no less than seven different vendors assisting us with the restoration effort. Multiple crews have been on site for weeks clearing trees and removing landscaping, storm and other debris from the property... Following [Florida Power and Light] restoring power to the property on or about October 17, we continued substantial work to evaluate the condition of the electrical infrastructure. This weekend we will begin the first phase of a multi-million-dollar project to repair and upgrade the electrical infrastructure of the property... We have been in regular contact with our customers since the storm, both at the property and via email communication, with six email updates provided to customers since the storm."