NORTH NAPLES, Fla - With shovels in hand, a community is trying to save a North Naples waterway by digging and so far, it's working.
Storms have pushed sand so far inland, Clam Pass is completely blocked. The waterway sits between Pelican Bay and Seagate, just behind the Waldorf Astoria.
Making matters worse, an emergency dredging permit is still weeks, if not months away. Rather than waiting, one group is taking matters into their own hands.
Clam Pass in North Naples was once a waterway that connected Clam Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, but summer storms have turned the waterway into dry land.
Rod Mackay, a Chicago resident with property in Naples says, "at Thanksgiving time it was getting worse and worse and I said to my son, if we come back at the Holidays and if its any worse, we're going to dig it out ourselves."
And that's exactly what Rod and his 13 year old son Alec did. On Saturday the two started digging. Each day more people have shown up, with shovels in hand, to help.
"I didn't think this many people would come and help, but so many people have just took their time to come and dig, it's great," says Alec.
The Pelican Bay Services Division has applied for a ten year permit to dredge Clam Pass, but homeowners are hoping an emergency permit will be issued.
"You're seeing a mini version of what needs to be done here, getting done," says Scott Streckenbein, a resident of Pelican Bay.
At a meeting Wednesday, engineers said the soonest a permit can be issued is 45 days.
In the meantime, environmental concerns have come up. Getting water back and forth is key for the mangroves to survive and until this group started digging, fish couldn't get out.
"It's working," says Rod. "Each successive day more and more gets done, more and more gets dug and more and more water seems to go back and forth now."
Rather than waiting for a permit, this group, mostly kids, is hoping their efforts will continue to catch on.
"Every single muscle in my body is sore, and my hands are covered in blisters, but it's worth it though, it's worth it," says Alec.
Collier County Commissioner Georgia Hiller said at Wednesday's meeting that the dredging is a county initiative and will be paid for with tourist tax dollars meaning residents of Pelican Bay will not have to foot the bill.
Until then, Rod and Alec say they will both be back out digging until they head back to Chicago on Sunday.