Charlotte County declared a local state of emergency due to red tide on Tuesday.
Red tide has hit some areas harder than others.
“Yeah we’ve been dealing with it for 10 months — this latest red tide outbreak,” Brian Gleason, Communications Manager with Charlotte County, said.
What does that mean for local businesses? Those who have been economically impacted by red tide can apply for disaster loans for up to $50,000.
Some people say the state of emergency announcement came a little too late.
“It almost feels like the BP oil spill, they didn’t do anything about it,” Sharon Valderrama, Assistant Manager at Geraldi’s in Englewood, said. “Until a large enough group of people came up and said ‘We’re at the point where people are closing their entire businesses down here.’”
She said business has slowed down. Some people don’t even want to leave their homes because of red tide.
“That’s mostly what we’ve been counting on a lot now is deliveries, because people stay in a lot now,” Valderrama said. “They don’t want to come out of their place.”
She said they’ve had to close their door because of the smell. The door is usually always open.
“It’s never been this bad, it’s never been this strong, it’s never lasted so long,” Valderrama said. “It’s just — it’s unbearable.”
Charlotte County officials said red tide is hitting hardest now on the Barrier Islands, Englewood Beach, Don Pedro Island, Knight Palm Island, and Little Gasparilla Island.
But it’s not so unbearable for all businesses in Charlotte County. Areas near the upper harbor of Charlotte County, like Punta Gorda, are seeing business growth. One of those lucky spots is Laishley Park Marina.
“It’s sad to say — our major issues we have had is people are wanting to come in with their boats from other marinas to escape the red tide and algae blooms because we’re a little bit further inland,” Rusty Heaxt, manager for City of Punta Gorda Marina, said.
However red tide is impacting his home. He lives in Pine Island because he usually goes out on his boar regularly, but not this season.
“I’ve been boating once this year. Period. Where I would go no less than three or four times a month,” Rusty said. “The last time I was out was in April.”
On Monday, Governor Scott declared a state of emergency in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
Businesses interested in applying for the loan to help with the economic impact of red tide can do so on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website .
Additional reporting by Anna Kohls