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Sarasota's coastline residents clean up after Tropical Storm Debby

5:47 PM, Jun 27, 2012   |    comments
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Manasota Key, Florida - Tropical Storm Debby's pounding waves and winds can still be seen and felt along Sarasota's coastline, from Siesta Key all the way south to the county line along the coast.

Debby washed away a 12 foot drop of sand stretching out 20-30 feet in front of Bob Duato's home on Manasota Key. The erosion uprooted trees and is exposing the foundation on Duato's home.

"It's discouraging, it's really discouraging," says Duato. He remembers when the beach didn't look like this. "When we bought this house in the 80's it was a wide beach, no drop off. Now you are on a cliff."

His neighbors are better off, but not by much. Kristy Stoker says the dunes stood about 10 feet tall and stretched out at least 20 feet.   

"We are at the beginning of the hurricane season. This was just a tropical storm that didn't make a direct hit on our area. It gives you new respect with what the weather can do," says Stoker.

The Manasota Key coastline is littered with torn docks and downed trees. Also hit hard are Siesta Key and Casey Key, where county officials say Debby washed away up to 60 feet of beach. Some homeowners are still digging out their cars.

Among Tropical Storm Debby's tiniest victims are the sea turtle nests. Mote Marine scientists say only 18% of the marked nests along a 35 mile stretch of beach line remain.

Mote says this had set out to be a record year, with more than 1,300 nests midway through the season. That was more nests than compared to all of last year.

Mote Marine volunteer Jeff Kratz monitors the sea turtle nests on north Casey Key. He says, "Everything we had mapped out washed over. We saw a lot of eggs, empty eggs... pretty much devastation."

Sarasota County officials say it's too early to estimate the cost of cleaning up the mess Tropical Storm Debby left behind, but they do hope the federal government will help pay for repairing roads and re-nourishing beaches.

County environmental officials say some of the beach sand lost may be washed back on shore during the next couple of weeks.   

Isabel Mascarenas

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