Fox Street took on a lot of water, which receded in waves throughout the night and morning. (Courtesy of Vashti Braha)
The folks around Fox Street in Longbeach Village spent a lot of time Thursday morning cleaning, planning for alternate housing and explaining the situation to a pet cat.
Eta’s storm surge and heavy rains brought floodwaters to their neighborhood on Wednesday evening, which rose high enough to enter several homes in the northern Longboat Key neighborhood.
Firefighters ended up helping less than a dozen people out of their homes and find shelter at a Manatee County facility. Neighbors also spoke of simply watching the water rise, powerless to do anything about it.
Rusty Chinnis, who’s lived in the area for decades, said the storm’s effects were the worst he’s seen.
Water didn’t enter his home but did get into the garage.
“I'm just thinking of it as an opportunity to clean out the garage ... I've been here 40 years and it's the worst I've ever seen,” Chinnis said.
Vashti Braha, who lives in the 600 block of Fox Street, said the neighborhood has flooded before, but this time there was something different.
“It's surreal enough to ride a kayak down your street or see jellyfish by your mailbox, that's plenty surreal, but I'm used to that,” Braha said. “Other houses have been flooded before but it takes a lot for this house to flood.”
Their house had never actually taken on water before.
“We have to toss the futon,” Braha said. “It's like one giant cotton ball.”
Her shoes she was wearing were the only ones with thick enough soles to stay dry.
Chippy the cat got freaked out during the night and she had to carry him from room to room explaining what was going on, and he began purring. He needed it again at 2 a.m.
Nearby, at the Claypoole’s house, it was much the same.
Ali Claypoole said the family would soon relocate to a mainland home they own so that repairs can be made.
Floors, baseboards and drywall will need to be replaced, she said.
But, as is becoming common around town, she said it could have been worse.
The family had to call fire department because of strange electrical smell coming from the washing machine.
“We had sandbags, and they did nothing,” Ali said.
Fred Kagi and John DeVito were chatting amid the receded flood waters on Thursday and said a neighbor had measured the depth of the water from the bay on Broadway Street at 28 inches.
“People are telling me who that have lived here 30 something years that this is one of the worst if not the worst it's been,” Kagi said.
Kagi said his ground-floor Russell Street home had flooding on both sides, which included his pool overflowing.
“You couldn't even see the pool,” Kagi said. “It was pouring in towards my sliding glass doors. [It] came under, it came in the house, everything.”
DeVito's home on the corner of Broadway Street and Russell Street is on stilts.
“It came to within a foot of the house, the water, but it didn't make it into the garage,’’ DeVito said. “I'm still another 11 feet in the air.”
The two men chatted about the effects of salt water flooding on lawns and plants and the difficulty of leaving in the middle of the flooding.
“It was an extreme annoyance and it made me nervous,’’ Kagi said, adding that it became obvious after high tide that the water began receding.
Kagi also said Eta had a bigger impact on his home than Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
“It was the perfect storm,’’ Kagi said. “It came during high tide and surge was from here. And, Irma, which was much, much bigger [had] zero [impacts] because it came the other way.’’
Kagi said he's never made an insurance claim because he has a $5,000 deductible. He said he would begin the process of getting estimates on the damage to his home.