Technically, it probably wasn’t the fault of 2020. But this year may take some blame anyway.
A few days after Tropical Storm Eta passed over Florida south of Venice, giving cloudy skies and some rain, it turned around in the Gulf of Mexico and roared as a weak northbound hurricane, causing about $20,000 in damage in the city.
The spaghetti models had it deep in the Gulf of Mexico but it moved east, dragging near the coast of Southwest Florida on Wednesday.
“It was not what we were expecting. It was a little more,” Venice Public Works Director James Clinch said Friday.
The heavy rains ended with localized flooded roads. Winds clocked nearly 60 mph out from Venice Municipal Airport. A roof came off a mobile home and light pole came down at the Venice Community Center.
The storm surge led to the most damage locally, with the Humphris Park and the South Jetty having rocks and materials moved around by waves for hours on end. They are both closed while repairs are underway, Clinch said.
Winds pulled portions of a roof off one Venice mobile home.
The home, in the 100 block of Cockrill Street in the Beach Manor Villas, sustained damage about 10:20 a.m. Wednesday.
Matthew Angier, a nearby resident, was outside as the incident happened.
“I look over and see all these pieces come flying up … Styrofoam and this one,” he said, pointing to debris in his yard.
He called 911 and knocked on the home to see if anyone was there. Thankfully, he said, there wasn’t.
It wasn’t anything beyond the wind, he said.
“I don’t think it was a (micro)burst,” he said. “It was a whole ripping sound; a shredding.”
Clinch said one light pole came down at Venice Community Center, along with some trees downed and leaned over by the storm.
He said the worst damage in the city was the jetty’s walkway, which may need to be closed for a few weeks.
“There was 3-4 feet of storm surge and wind that caused large breakers that broke along the rocks. The water moved a lot of material — base material for the parking lot was washed away … we’ve got a lot of erosion with exposed rocked and trip hazards,” Clinch said.
He said the storm “peeled a good half of the walkway of the jetty.”
Clinch estimated the cost for repaving the walkway will be about $10,000. The parking lot, he’s hoping, will reopen by next weekend. The cost will be about $5,000 in supplies; the city will do much of the work, he thinks.
The city declared a state of emergency and closed several areas near the beach Wednesday. Sarasota County also kept an eye on roads on Casey Key. Schools closed early Wednesday but were back in session Thursday.
But it could have been worse.
“Overall, we fared very well from the storm,” Clinch said. “It was a good reminder ... it wasn’t a large storm and it didn’t hit us, but you have to take all these storms very seriously.”
City workers were largely supposed to be off recognizing Veterans Day on Wednesday but were called into work that morning as the forecast brought the storm closer.
They did everything from taking down flower baskets downtown and putting up benches and picnic tables at Humphris Park.
“We were rushed, for sure. It did not do what it was expected it to do so we had to come in and react — which we did,” he said.
Improvements to Snake Island and dredging in Lyons Bay seems like it was not heavily damaged, according to WCIND Executive Director Joshua McBride.
”We went out there the morning after,” McBride said. “The rock revetments around the island did their job.”
He noted Snake Island is more protected than the jetty because it is farther in from the Gulf.
Snake Island is about midway through a $389,000 renourishment program.
McBride said they are continuing to do some surveys in “key locations” to see if there is any other damage, but said “the beaches took the brunt of it.”
By Thursday morning, city workers and volunteers were in the area picking up what had fallen down.
Keep Venice Beautiful, a volunteer group under Venice Area Beautification Inc., changed their Thursday morning agenda and helped clean up Hecksher and Heritage parks.
The group, which calls itself Team KVB, picked up small clumps of leafs and large branches to clear the walkways and lawns of Heritage Park.
Team KVB organizer Corky Dalton said they heard the city needed an assist and the team stepped up.
He sent out an email early Thursday and had 18 volunteers at Hecksher Park by 7 a.m.
Their normal Thursday events include picking up trash and cutting down invasive vegetation. Not this week.
“It was a lot different because we felt like were having an immediate impact, which felt pretty good,” Dalton said.
He said Team KVB had camaraderie but also has to maintain social distance this year. They do find a great benefit to it.
“The biggest thing we get out of it is a lot of thank yous from people who walk by,” Dalton said. “That makes you feel like you’re a part of the community to get that recognition — you don’t have to get awards when you get that kind of feedback.”
After the storm, the city put out a notice reminding residents that each residential unit “is allowed two, 20-yard collections of bulk yard waste per fiscal year. Yard waste should be in one pile, within 6 feet of the curb, and not under power lines or tree limbs.”
Appointments need to be made beforehand.
“The pile should not be spread out. Taller is better than wider,” the city said. “Limbs and branches in the pile should not exceed 10 feet in length.”
For more information, call the City Public Works Department at 941-486-2422.