PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — The sound of hammers and construction is music to the ears of people living in Punta Gorda Isles, as seawalls in this neighborhood are being repaired more than a year after being damaged by Hurricane Ian.
Bob Wheeler, a Punta Gorda Isles resident, expressed appreciation for the progress, saying, "They're stepping up, they're doing a great job, and it's awful nice people doing it."
The journey to this point has seen a series of delays and challenges. In April of this year, Fox 4 reported that the city would fund the repair of every seawall, but they put off hiring contractors, causing a delay in the project's start.
In May, barges were brought in to begin repairs, but crews estimated that it would take around 18 months to get to the entire area.
Then, a new anchoring system to reinforce the walls needed to be approved by the city of Punta Gorda before the work could start.
Richard Kidd, Superintendent of R.J. Gorman Marine, explained, "That took us a little time, but finally, we got another anchor approved so we can get them. So, we're starting to catch back up and we'll probably make schedule."
Homeowners like Bob Wheeler say they’re grateful to see construction finally underway and are pleased to know that the seawalls will be built stronger than before.
"It gives you some peace of mind to know that it should hopefully outlast me, ' Wheeler said
However, the construction process has not been without challenges. Crews say they have run into massive rocks that needed to be moved, and they’ve also had to take care of damaged docks in the way.
Superintendent Kidd highlighted the need to adapt to each situation, saying, "One job might be completely different than the other."
Despite these setbacks, Kidd's team has taken the time to make the process as easy as they can for homeowners. They say they have preserved trees near the seawalls and plugged and marked any waterlines they hit, ensuring that any issues can be easily addressed.
Residents of Punta Gorda Isles say they’re relieved to have the sight of construction crews in their backyards, as they look forward to a safer and more secure seawall to weather any future hurricanes.