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Influx of people on Fort Myers Beach brings extra trash being left behind

Posted at 8:45 PM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 05:19:06-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Tonight we are keeping an eye on Fort Myers Beach post Hurricane Ian and the amount of visitors the area is now continuing to see since the holidays. And with that there's been extra trash left out and only a few public bathrooms to use.

Trevor Schornack is in town visiting from Michigan and says, "I feel like people are littering because of the hurricane — I feel like it’s just since there’s more trash out there they’re just leaving it behind."

"There was a couple right there where those people are sitting, they left some trash and we picked it up," says Gary Howard who's a frequent FMB visitor from Indiana since 1996.

The extra trash is a concern brought to us on Monday by Mayor Allers when covering another story at Fort Myers Beach. On Tuesday we spoke with Council Member Bill Veach about the trash and influx of people in general.

"We are really not prepared currently to provide the level of service that we usually are for the visitors a Fort Myers Beach — we are scrambling, we still have no Town Hall, we’re playing musical chairs," Bill Veach.

I also spoke with Veach about the concern of bathrooms, "The bathrooms were in the county park behind us which is closed and I have not heard when they are going to reopen. Usually, with the parks they don’t reopen until they’re fully ready to go. I know that there are four porta-potties right here. Two of those were by a business which you know La Ola they have a food truck over here they were good enough to put those out. The others are from the town."

Veach says right now money is tight after such a storm... "We’re kind of in a bit of a pinch right now. Whether or not we want to supply restrooms for the visitors maybe or hire a permitting tech to help get permits for the residence so there’s a lot of decisions to be made it’s not clearly black-and-white."

I also reached out the District 3 in regards to Fort Myers Beach and trash and was sent this statement from Commissioner Ray Sandelli, District 3:

“It’s my understanding that the Town of Fort Myers Beach experienced a larger-than-expected crowd on the New Year’s weekend. As such, trash exceeds the capacity of the limited receptacles remaining in place after the storm. A number of clean up teams were at work on New Year’s day to aggregate the waste picked up. I’m told that those materials were being removed today. As the beach is not officially open, it is difficult to gauge use by beachgoers, especially during the holidays.”

"I would recommend that if people come that they treat it like a camping trip to a more remote beach and pack their garbage if they can and understand that this is not the old beach [we knew] and that we have a lot of things going on, a lot of priorities and then if they can take their trash with them that would help everybody out," says Veach.

Council Member Veach also said it's been remarkable to see the efforts here so far even with the businesses that are setting up trailers that are food trucks. So right now it's a lot of scrambling as to what to list as top priorities but as you heard make sure what you bring here to the beach you take back with you.