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Longboat Key Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 2 weeks ago

Longboat Key residents continue Eta clean-up

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Buttonwood Harbor residents saw water rise throughout their neighborhood.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Clean up is continuing in the Buttonwood Harbor neighborhood even though Hurricane Eta passed through a week ago.

Bags filled with debris and downed tree limbs lined the streets on Wednesday waiting for trash collection. Sherry Nikolich’s Buttonwood Drive home was among those with piles of refuse at the curb..

“We were up until 1 a.m., [the storm flooding] was dumping into the doors,” Nikolich said, adding she said at the time she should have sandbagged the garage opening. “One thing about this neighborhood, we were all calling each other.”

Homes along Buttonwood Drive had debris and downed tree limbs lining the streets Wednesday morning for pickup.

It was a neighbor who tipped off Nikolich to check on her garage.

“If she wouldn’t have called me, I would have still been sitting in there I’d never have known to run out and at least start to get some belongings out of there,” Nikolich said.

While the inside of her newly renovated house did not get flooded, her next-door neighbors on both sides experienced worse flooding.

“I don’t know of anybody’s garage that did not flood except maybe that one person right there because they’re on high ground,” Nikolich said. “Water was up to the inside of our garage house door.”

The flooding also caused a construction site bathroom to float down Buttonwood Drive.

“The only that stopped it was this palm tree,” Nikolich said.

Nikolich recalled her memories of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

“We had literally closed on the house two weeks prior to [Irma],” Nikolich said. “We didn’t make our first mortgage payment on the house and we thought we were going to lose the house [at the time].

“[To] compare it, honestly, I feel like [Eta] was worse.”

Homes along Buttonwood Drive had debris and downed tree limbs lining the streets Wednesday morning for pickup.

Many Longboat Key residents had flooding because of Eta, including north-end residents in the Longbeach Village neighborhood.

The town of Longboat Key is asking residents to leave yard waste in 32-gallon cans, bags or small bundles.

Residents and businesses can arrange for special pickups of large items or piles by calling Waste Management at 941-753-7591. Longboat Key has its normal waste collection on Wednesdays.

Town Manager Tom Harmer said the town is finalizing its damage assessment to determine any potential long-term impacts.

“We're still out there doing some cleanup,” Harmer said. “From a public standpoint, our private contractor Waste Management is responsible for picking up debris collected alongside the roads. It's going to take a little bit of time to work through all that to get back to what I would say is normal.”

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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