Charlotte County, Florida — Canal cleaning is underway in Charlotte County. Chainsaws, boats, and claw machines are just a few of the tools disaster debris haulers use to get the job done. People who live in homes near the site today said they had tears in their eyes when they saw the crew coming this morning.
“We blew Styrofoam, aluminum, plastic chairs and anything else that could be blown into the canal,” said Deborah Walsh.
Now the main obstacle preventing Walsh from enjoying the views of the Hayward Canal waterway is vegetation.
“We tried to pull some things out, but of course some things you can’t do and all the trees are in the canal,” she said.
That’s where today’s incoming crew lends a big hand. Walsh sat and watched as they used chainsaws to break tree trunks and remove branches and metal plates from the canal piece by piece.
“When it was almost over, I was hugging everyone like Our Lady,” Walsh laughs.
Next door Gene Townsend allows the team to start a waterway cleaning activity in her garden.
“I got goosebumps and tears of joy when Zulu helped me. It’s amazing,” Townshend said.
She has two homes near Stephens Road and Warren Avenue and said the trash comes with the area.
“It’s these terrible hurricanes that we deal with in Florida. Ian wreaked havoc,” Townsend said.
According to Charlotte County spokesman Brian Gleeson, the mess will take some time to clear up.
“Frankly, we don’t even know how much there is, so we don’t even have an estimate yet,” he said. “We start with the ocean channels — which are brackish, tidal bodies of water. Then we move on to freshwater canals, lakes and major channels.”
The crew will return to the same area tomorrow to continue cleaning. Once they’re done, Walsh has plans to celebrate.
“I’ll light the fire pit, sit in a chair and enjoy the water, or put a pole down and see if I can catch any fish,” she said.
The county is taking your call about which canals need cleaning. They’re working on a map so they can follow when they want to reach more waterways.