SWFL feeling effects of blue-green algae; similar to east coast 2016 issue

Peter Formica has walked out of his condo at Clipper Bay to the sight and smell of blue-green algae.

Formica compared the stench to “rotten trash, it almost makes you nauseous.”

The pollution triggered a state of emergency in several counties, but residents living on the east coast experienced a similar situation two years ago.

“It is a horrible, horrible situation,” said Mary Radavaugh in a previous 2016 interview with WINK News.

WINK News spoke to Radavaugh, who lives on the east coast, in June 2016 when the toxic blue-green algae in the St. Lucie River took over the water at Central Marina.

“My guys aren’t just wearing masks, they’re wearing respirator masks,” Radavaugh said in a previous 2016 interview with WINK News.

Radavaugh told WINK News she’s seen images this year from the west coast and said it looks even worse than before.

“it is a horrible thing to experience, the smell, like I said it’s like death 100 times over,” Radavaugh said.

It begs the question: How much longer will it sit and can anything more be done to get rid of it?

“It can’t be here for another month, people will start leaving this place,” Formica said.

Formica wondered if he should take things into his own hands by “grab(bing) my shovel and … picking it up myself.”

However, Radavaugh cautioned against it.

“It’s toxic and it concerns me for the people that live there,” Radavaugh said.

Radavaugh added it’ll take time.

“I think it’s a matter of waiting it out,” Radavaugh said. “If they had a way to do it I think D.E.P would have hired someone to do it.”

Radavaugh said it took more than a month for the algae in 2016 to completely clear up.

With the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee stopped for now, Cape Coral residents said they hope it doesn’t worsen, but do not see it getting better anytime soon.

WINK News reporter Nicole Valdes caught up with Radavaugh two years later. Watch the full segment below:

East Coast (2016)

Video from Martin County during the last state of emergency in 2016, over algal blooms on the east coast of Florida.

West Coast (2018)

Video from Cape Coral Friday showing algae in a canal near the Cape Coral bridge:

Is algae posing health concerns for residents, visitors?

On the heels of Gov. Rick Scott’s announcement of a declaration of a state of emergency for parts of Southwest Florida: is it more dangerous than just a bad stench?

“If you’re handling or swimming in the algal bloom, it can cause skin rashes,” said Florida Gulf Coast University professor Mike Parsons. “If you happen to ingest the water you can get the toxins in your system, they’re liver toxins.”

Signs are warning people not to get in the water because of the algae.

Parsons said it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time spent breathing in the potentially deadly smell.

WINK News reporter Brooke Shafer spoke with an expert on the potential risks associated with the toxic blue-green algae. Watch the full segment below:

Sanibel mayor urges action

Sanibel mayor Kevin Ruane asked his constituents to contact elected representatives to take action on the algae plaguing Southwest Florida waterways, according to a letter.

Ruane requested such urgency due to the potential health and safety ramifications associated with the issue.

Ruane provided contact information for several elected officials:

  • President Donald Trump
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20500
  • Senator Bill Nelson
    United States Senate
    716 Senate Hart Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
    Email form: https://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill
  • Senator Marco Rubio
    284 Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
    Email form: https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact
  • Congressman Rooney, 19th Congressional District
    Washington, DC Office
    120 Cannon HOB
    Washington, DC 20515
    Email form: https://francisrooney.house.gov/contact/
  • Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, 25th Congressional District
    Washington, DC Office
    440 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    Email form: https://mariodiazbalart.house.gov/contact-mario
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • Colonel Jason Kirk, District Commander and District Engineer
      Email: [email protected]
    • Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Reynolds, Deputy District Commander for South Florida
      Email: [email protected]
Reporter:Brooke Shafer
Nicole Valdes
Oliver Redsten
Writer:Rachel Ravina
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