Naples Daily News
Hurricane Ian aftermath: Tour of damage shows parts of Naples look like “a war zone”
Laura Layden, Naples Daily News – October 3, 2022
In a drive around the city, Naples Police Lieutenant Bryan McGinn pointed to some of the worst and costliest damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
On Friday, he whizzed around the city streets, as much as he could, driving through sludge, stopping at every dark traffic light and dodging clean-up and repair crews — and a slew of curious onlookers wanting to see the destruction for themselves.
One of the worst-hit areas by the Category 4 storm? Gulf Shore Boulevard North — where the water had finally receded enough to have a better look at Ian’s wrath.
Sludge still filled much of the road, patio furniture lay tangled in the median, cars sat angled in front of condos, a sign of the powerful, unexpected surge that put them completely under water. A crooked boat sat in a parking lot, moved from its perch, with another halfway submerged in waters nearby.
Assessing the damage: Aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Naples and Collier County in Florida
Residents had started the clean-up, dragging everything from drenched carpet to soaked couches to the curb. Along with a snarl of landscaping.
Clearly, there’s much more work to be done in the Moorings, Park Shore and elsewhere in the city. With gobs of debris started to make it to the curb.
Boats uplifted from their docks
At the Village Shops on Venetian Bay, business owners worked to deal with the mess, a stranded boat sat in the parking lot, with no name on it.
“Unfortunately, there was a lot of water surging,” McGinn said. “That storm came in real fast.”
It wasn’t just water that roared onto the shore in the city. It was loads of sand and sediment from the Gulf of Mexico and Naples Bay, which did plenty of damage of its own.
That sand and sediment turned into a slippery, sticky muck that covered city streets — and the insides of homes and businesses. Some have complained about its stench.
During the tour, McGinn pointed to an extra-wide, steel mobile mini storage container sitting near the intersection of 8th Street South and Broad Avenue, feet from the Cove Inn On Naples Bay, that mysteriously appeared there, likely from a construction site nearby, taking up the entire corner.
“That storage container doesn’t belong there,” he said.
Its weight is in the thousands of pounds, showing the power of the surge.
In Crayton Cove, McGinn took a turn toward the City Dock, rebuilt a few years ago at a cost of $7 million. He happily reported it fared well.
Businesses are picking up the pieces
Nearby businesses, however, weren’t as lucky, including The Dock, a Naples landmark. It’s still standing, but crews worked busily to clean up its insides, which clearly saw a heavy impact from the storm surge.
Across the way, Napoli On The Bay, didn’t look so good either, with a water line stain halfway up the door.
“Pretty unbelievable,” McGinn said.
On Third Avenue South downtown, store owners scrambled to pick up the pieces. Chain saws roared, vacuum trucks rumbled as they sucked out water, and power washers echoed, as owners, employees and hired contractors worked to wash down all the sediment left behind on everything from parking lots to plant pots.
Water stains again showed just how high the water got.
Some business owners have lost virtually everything.
On Third Street and nearby Fifth Avenue South, shops, restaurants and other businesses have scrambled to reopen, if possible.
“Fortunately, our city is resilient,” McGinn said. “So, many business owners are making a push. They want to be able to help people. That’s what they do.”
As soon as it could, Liki Tiki, the local “Tiki Bar” and classic BBQ restaurant on U.S. 41, reopened on Thursday, serving drinks only — because that’s all it could do.
“It was packed,” McGinn said. “It’s a good sight to see. It’s good camaraderie.”
Port Royal may have fared better than others
In Port Royal, known as one of the priciest neighborhoods in America, the damage didn’t seem as great. Signs of water intrusion were harder to spot, but landscaping took a hit, with a near-constant buzz of chain saws.
“A lot of these are new construction homes,” McGinn said. “So, maybe they did fare a little better.”
The Port Royal Club sustained damage.
Closer to the coast, surging waters forced some residents to their roofs, for higher ground, to wait out rescue crews.
“I’m sure there were lives lost,” McGinn said. “But we won’t know how many for some time. It’s hard to tell.”
Some of the stranded cars still spotted around the city, he said, are the result of residents driving around during the storm, failing to heed warnings. They had to walk or swim away, abandoning their vehicles, McGinn said.
“People were still out and about, not listening to shelter in place,” he said, or evacuation orders.
After the storm, vehicles blocking streets were taken to Baker Park, but eventually, the city ran out parking spaces for them.
Mansions on the Gulf could have seen extensive damage
On Gordon Drive, it’s hard to tell how much damage multimillion-dollar mansions sitting directly on the Gulf of Mexico took, but McGinn said the water and sand likely did a lot of damage to them.
Parts of Gordon Drive were still blocked on Friday, with piles of sand dropped by Ian still in the road.
Much of the city saw flooding.
“Even areas like Lake Park had several feet of water in their homes,” McGinn said, after the Gordon River flooded.
The Naples Pier is heavily damaged, but not destroyed.
“It’s sad,” McGinn said.
While beach ends, or public access points, haven’t reopened, residents and visitors alike have flocked to them, to see the damages with their own eyes shooting photos and videos to document the storm.
“This is how well people listen,” McGinn said. “I get it. Everybody wants to see how the city of Naples fared. It all comes from a good place.”
At the Horizon Way beach access in Park Shore, he pointed to what looked like structural damage at St. Croix Club condominiums, but it was hard to determine the extent of it.
“That’s no bueno,” McGinn said.
Parts of Naples look like a “war zone”
In the Moorings area, Regency Towers looked like it took a heavy hit too — along with other condos and homes.
“It looks like a war zone up here,” McGinn said.
While water wiped out the contents of condos, homes and businesses, he said, structural damage might not be extensive since winds weren’t as extreme as with past storms.
“Their personal property is gone,” McGinn said. “But they can be replaced over time.”
Looking over all the damage in Naples, it’s hard to fathom how bad others had it just one county over, McGinn said.
“What’s crazy is we are not even the hardest hit area,” he said.