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Southwest Florida in preparation for Tropical Storm Eta’s arrival

Marco Island 

Many on Marco Island were trying to enjoy the last bit of their weekend before Tropical Storm Eta interrupted.

Within the last hour, WINK News Anchor Justin Kase has seen rain and winds pickup head of the storm. The surf still seems to be somewhat calm.

One woman spent her time picking up trash. “I might as well pick up the little bits I can right now before it hits. So yeah, and get some exercise too,” said Julia Byrne, Marco Island resident.

Now, the beaches are pretty empty, with the exception of a few people strolling. Almost all of the people WINK News spoke to were from out of state and came to Marco this weekend to get away from the cold, the election and COVID-19. Most came before they even knew about the storm.

Chad and Brooke Barber who are visiting from Delaware. “And the rest of our vacations, at least while we stay inside, it’ll be fine. We can play games. And we can watch TV,”  said Barber.

Byrne likes to keep the beaches beautiful. But, since Eta is coming, she wanted to be as prepared as possible.  “I kind of gathered chairs and plants and anything that would blow away, bird feeder, things like that,” Byrne said.

But, the visitors are remaining hopeful and staying together. “So as long as we’re together, we’re going to have a blast and whether that’s inside or outside on an overcast day like this,” said the Barbers.

Besides, anything is better than winter weather. “A rainy day in Florida is better than a 40-degree sunny day in Connecticut. That’s how we look at it,” said the Magans who are here from Connecticut.

Jacob Bazyk is from Vermont. “I surf, I windsurf, skimboard, do it all. So, I’ve been keeping up with the… been trying to keep up with the surf,” he said.

As a reminder to those living on Marco Island, trash pickup has been moved to Thursday. The city is urging people to secure trash cans and other outdoor items ahead of Tropical Storm Eta.

Chad and Brooke Barber just hope everyone is safe. “My heart is just with those who are affected,” they said.

Naples

The wind has been strong all evening on Naples Beach. However, the rain has been on and off all day.

Driving down, and even on 5th Avenue in Naples there were puddles beginning to form. The branches were swaying in the wind.

The wind and rain didn’t deter people from coming out before the Tropical Storm hits us.

Shirley Hicks lives in Naples. “I’ve got half of my shutters up,” she said.

Everyone is hoping that conditions don’t worsen too much. “We have a candle. We have our cell phones and like I said we’re going to make the best out of it,” said Cecilia and Laz Caro, who are visiting from Miami.

Being from Miami, this weekend getaway is, “ironic,” they said. “Enjoying the weather. A little ironic but it is what it is,” said the Caroes. “We are just going to enjoy the weekend, for what is left of it, on the beach hopefully.”

For one group of friends, however, Tropical Storm Eta has disrupted their vacation. Kathy Dame is from Jupiter. “We expected to have a nice few days here. But no sun, no beach, rain,” said Dame.

They hoped they’d be able to enjoy the beach minus a rain poncho. “I hope it’s going away from here sometime soon,” said Larissa Charette.

But luckily, everyone says they have all of the supplies they need but hope they won’t need to use it.

WINK News is the Weather Authority and we will keep you updated on Tropical Storm Eta.

Sanibel

The Cottages in Sanibel now have a sand barrier. An employee told WINK News reporter Morgan Rynor that the cottages are moving people from sea level to elevated locations.

The Madhatter Restaurant on Sanibel Island also has about a dozen sandbags out front tonight.

But, for the most part, everyone is staying pretty relaxed.

Miguel and Marly are celebrating 18 years of marriage and nothing will ruin it for them. “It’s beautiful. We love it. I mean we have to be really be careful of course but we take precautions. We go back very soon,” they said.

“We were driving around and the weather was nice and I was like ok let’s go to Sanibel and see how it’s going. We have to go back now. We just have our little picnic and that’s it,” said Marly.

To get to Sanibel Island, you have to go over the Sanibel Causeway. Lee County officials don’t ever close the bridges but they do encourage drivers to avoid them when winds are over 45 mph.

Fort Myers Beach

Those who have lived on Fort Myers Beach for a long time know how essential it is to prepare for tropical storms and hurricanes. But visitors from out of town decided that today was more about relaxation than preparation.

The wind gusts began picking up this evening on Fort Myers Beach and had palm trees swaying. The rain is also coming down hard right now.

Restaurants didn’t seem to get much business today. But the few out-of-town visitors did try to get the full Southwest Florida experience.

Although they aren’t sure what to expect, many of them may be experiencing their first  Tropical Storm.

Mike Gillespie is visiting from Nebraska. “Just heading out here and seeing what’s going on and trying to see if we can visit some of this before it really gets bad,” Gillespie said.

Volodymyr Bida is in Fort Myers Beach from Cleveland. “We thought we were going to be at the house all day long today,” Bida said. “But it wasn’t that bad. So hopefully it’s not going to hit that bad.”

WINK News reporter Andrea Guerrero says most businesses on Fort Myers Beach told her they were scheduled to stay open.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Andryanna Sheppard
Andrea Guerrero
Morgan Rynor
Writer:Drew Hill
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