|Published:||May 19, 2010 5:04 AM EDT|
|Updated:||May 19, 2010 5:04 AM EDT|
FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - Beach businesses are looking for answers about the potential of the oil spill impact here.
The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce called a special meeting Monday night just to talk about the oil spill. A packed house of Fort Myers Beach business owners wantied to know: what could happen here?
"Every day checking the Deepwater Horizon website, keeping up with it everyday, every update," said Sharon Faircloth, owner of Holiday Watersports.
Faircloth's jetski rentals are right on the water, where customers don't hesitate to wonder out loud about oil.
"We do have a lot of people asking questions, a lot of people looking around saying, we don't see anything here," Faircloth said.
County leaders told business owners they have a contract with a company that could bring containment booms within 72 of oil's appearance. But if anything, oil arriving in Southwest Florida would be in weathered form, like tar balls, which are more easily removed by simply picking them up off the beach. Officials are also closely monitoring reports of oil on shore in other parts of the state.
"Some tar balls showing up in the Keys, still waiting to see if its from the Deepwater Horizon spill. If they are, you'll probably see additional resources ramp up," said John Wilson with Lee County Emergency Management.
For many beach businesses, the goal for the moment is to keep people visiting now, emphasizing that the southwest Florida shores are still oil-free.
"Maybe 1 or 2 cancellations but the majority we're seeing is people calling asking what's it going to be like in August, what's it going to be like in September, those that have reservations further out," said Ellis Etter of Pink Shell Resort.
Yet even some longtime visitors can't help but wonder if they'll have the same beautiful beaches to return to.
"We don't know that we will sign the same contract for three months again next year," said Jules Peeters, who's been visiting from Belgium for 15 years.
The Fort Myers Beach Chamber encouraged business owners to stay informed and report anything they may see. There is a state oil information line open 7 days a week at 888-337-3569 or online at www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon.
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