The Naples City Council unanimously extended the local state of emergency over Hurricane Ian for another seven days on Friday. This is the maximum period allowed by Florida law. The first declaration, made Tuesday, expired after 72 hours.

“We are in a tough situation and need to be very open and candid about the situation on the ground here,” said City Manager Jay Boudeshwar. “Our team of employees is working his 24/7. A team of people who couldn’t sleep last night are fighting house fires and dealing with broken generators.”

Boudeshwar said the city’s systems were offline due to electricity problems. “We are actively working to get back online,” he said. “The biggest problem right now is power. Everything we need to do depends on this power.”

Much of southwest Florida is still without power after Hurricane Ian made landfall on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, wreaking havoc and leaving an estimated 2.7 million Florida residents in the dark. As of Saturday afternoon, more than 35% of her Collier County residents remained without power, while more than 60% of Lee County residents and her 78% of Charlotte customers were without power.

President Joe Biden has approved Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request for a catastrophe declaration authorizing FEMA to provide individualized assistance to survivors in 13 Florida counties, including Charlotte, Collier, and Lee. Also, in these counties he will provide 100% federal funding for debris removal and emergency life-saving operations for 30 days.

“It was the perfect storm,” said Penny Taylor, the Collier County commissioner for districts that include the City of Naples in the Lake Park neighborhood where she lives. “The hurricane was moving by us when it slowed down. It was high tide when the hurricane moved by us. The wind was blowing from the south-southeast behind the hurricane. What happened was that it coincided with the high tide itself, the water from the Gulf of Naples and all the canals and everything was pushing into our area and that was the problem. Not only did the strong winds push it up, but there was a south-southeast current that brought the Gulf waters and the Gordon River into at least my area and many others: River Park, 10th Street, Downtown. Cars were floating in the median along Gulf Shore Boulevard north of (drive).”

Although most flooding from extreme storm surges has now subsided, widespread flooding remains to many coastal homes, businesses and vehicles. Newer homes, which were usually built to code at higher elevations, generally fared better than older homes, Taylor said. It was like dividing a damaged house,” she said. “Water cannot be argued. There is no way.”

The flooding was so severe that it caused extensive damage to vehicles, pumping stations and equipment in Naples, as well as inside and outside buildings. South Fifth Avenue, the heart of downtown Naples, experienced unimaginable flooding.

“Almost every facility had water inside. We’re seeing flood damage in cities, businesses, and homes,” Boudeshwar said. “Due to the damage caused by the floods, recovery will take weeks, if not months.”

The city’s water treatment plant was temporarily shut down this week as water was approaching the control panel. Flooded homes in low-lying areas will have problems backing up, Mr Boudeshwar said, but the sewage treatment plant is now fully operational again. While cleaning continues, the city lift station is being manually vacuumed.

“Most of the plant debris is out of the way. The big problem is standing water. He noted that more and more trucks are siphoning sand and debris from sewage systems. “This will get the water out. Remember, we have a gravity-based drainage system along the Gulf. By clearing those lines, we can push it out into the Gulf of Mexico.”

During the storm, city officials observed water rising to the top of City Hall across from Cambia Park. It was under an estimated 4-5 feet of water. “All around town hall he had six feet of water. It was literally a moat. We were trapped. We couldn’t get out,” Boudeshwar said.

Park Shore Plaza and The Village Shops at Venetian Bay are among the local retail hubs hit by the floods. “One of his council members had a front row seat to watching Gulf Shore Boulevard fill up and the waves crashing against the building instead of the beach because they all landed.” Wind Event Than.

“We had strong winds. There was a lot of debris, but the roof never really came off,” he said. “It was definitely a water event, but there was quite a bit of wind. Water was the headline.”

Areas of cities and counties west of U.S. 41 had precautionary boiling water alerts through Friday, but the alerts have been lifted for all areas except Gulf Shore Boulevard and The Strand of the Bay Colony, an enclave of Pelican Bay. rice field. The Collier 911 system went down Saturday morning. Residents in need of emergency assistance are asked to call 252-9300 or text 911 until the system is operational again.

The city had to dispel rumors that made national news on Thursday, claiming the historic Naples pier was gone, Boudeshwar said. The framework remains, but most of the wooden structures have been lost.

“The pier is quite damaged, completely unsafe for anyone to be on it, and has been closed indefinitely,” Budeshwar said. “There are major structural issues that must be addressed. Yes, but a full assessment is needed before we can begin to think about possible repairs or replacements.A good portion of the building is still there, but some buildings are lost.”

The fishing shelter and deck at the west end of the 1,000-foot town landmark are now completely gone, leaving only the pagoda-shaped roof and corner stanchions of the concession and toilet building in the middle of the pier. Also, most of the wooden railings and many deck planks are gone. A favorite destination for tourists and anglers for more than a century, the stakes still stick out of the bay.

Originally built in 1888, the pier will be rebuilt, and it won’t be the first time. It was also damaged by hurricanes in 1910, 1926, and 1960, necessitating extensive reconstruction each time. The pier was the last of the major reconstruction projects in 2015. Due to inflation and building supply problems, the cost of rebuilding the pier today could be double what he cost last time.

“The pier alone is a lot of money. In terms of damage to vehicles, buildings and parks, we expect probably around $20 million. “At this point, we’re not even talking about private homes or private businesses, but that would be in the hundreds of millions.”

So much sand from Naples’ famous beaches washed into downtown streets that it may not have much of an appeal for the Gulf Shore so far. says Boudeshwar.

“Lowdermilk Park is closed and will be closed in the near future. There is considerable damage to the building. Our beach end is also closed now it’s very, very dangerous ramps, sidewalks, stairs, they’re destroyed so you can’t put people in these dangerous situations So the end of the beach, the pier, Laudermilk Park, they’re all closed.”

The damage to Naples’ piers and beaches is heartbreaking, but of course it’s not a priority for the city at the moment. “At the moment, our priority is really public safety,” he said.

Critical recovery necessities include safe drinking water, traffic control, and debris clearing. Officials have been working in full force since Tuesday.

“Our city team, these people are very dedicated and they are there. is here and working to restore the city.

Boudeshwar, who was deputy mayor of Palm Beach on Florida’s east coast, started a new job in Naples this spring. He recently purchased a home in Collier County and his family was preparing to move out of West Palm Beach next week. Boudeshwar, who is temporarily renting a condo on Third Street, has been sleeping in his office since Tuesday. “Water got into the condo,” he said. “I can’t be there anymore. I’ll be in the office for a while.”

A few days after the devastating event, Boudeshwar said the city and region are now going through different stages of emotions. “We need to be better selves. We need to keep supporting each other and we need to take care of our mental health.We need to support each other. We all have to work together, and this will take days, weeks, maybe months.

“Everyone, please be patient. Please be kind. We will get through this, but it will be a tough few days until power is restored.”

Boudeshwar is confident that the community, united, can overcome the catastrophe. In fact, he doesn’t believe record-breaking weather events will necessarily delay the region’s busy season or the return of seasonal residents to Collier County.

“At this point, we are not going to encourage people to stick around. I understand,” he said. “By the time the season comes around, I think we will be at the last minute to get over this. I hope.”

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