FORT MYERS, Fla.- This Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of the gas line explosion that impacted thousands of people and hundreds of businesses in both Lee and Collier Counties. A year later, most businesses say they haven't seen a dime in compensation for their financial losses.
Jeff Webb, owner and General Manager of the Hampton Inn on Colonial Boulevard reflects back on a single day that cost him over $12,000 in business.
"It's frustrating because it seems like we're always footing the bill for someone else's mistakes," Webb said Thursday.
The massive explosion just east of his hotel knocked out gas for days, leaving his staff scrambling with no clean linens or hot showers for a packed weekend of guests.
"Luckily, a couple of hotels down the street were operating on electricity. So I was able to buy, literally, I think I bought 70 hotel rooms at other hotels for them to shower in," Webb said.
Naples pizza shop owner Jack Lucarelli had to close down his namesake storefront for six days, costing him an estimated $15,000 in lost sales.
"Having something like that happen just totally shuts you out," Lucarelli said Thursday.
Now, he's fronting a class action lawsuit against Posen and TECO/Peoples Gas System. Lucarelli's attorneys are seeking compensation for the hundreds of businesses that still haven't seen a dime for the thousands in losses.
"Those big companies, it doesn't mean much for them. But for us, it's hard to try and stay in business here," Lucarelli said.
Attorneys filing the class action lawsuit say the case is working it's way through the legal system. They expect a hearing concerning the case in early 2012.