Red tide forces some SWFL employees to find work elsewhere

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:

Employees at restaurants along the Southwest Florida coast say they’re forced to take jobs in other cities to make money.

They say bare beaches mean they can’t make ends meet.

Tony Syrakis manages the front desk at the Lani Kai resort on Fort Myers Beach, but he says so many others are having a hard time managing their bills.

“People are going up to like the Midwest and things to try to make sure they have a constant income coming in,” Syrakis said.

Traveling to where business is better and the waters are red tide free.

“One gentleman for sure he’s gonna be working up on the beach unlike you’re on in Michigan,” Syrakis said.

Leaving one coast for another to get more working hours.

“Yeah they’re finding jobs up there,” Syrakis said.

But many, like Allison Jording, a server at Yucatán Bar and Grill, say that’s not an option for some, especially those who have kids enrolled in Florida schools. So working elsewhere in the state has become a common alternative.

“I’m considering maybe perhaps St. Petersburg or maybe even somewhere else I know that a lot of people have been talking about if you’re not going to be able to make your money here that we’re gonna have to do something,” Jording said.

“We had some that said they were going to go over to Miami, and we had another person said he was going to go to Tampa, and then another guy said he was actually going to Orlando,” Syrakis said.

Some are trying out another industry.

“One of our, he even actually has an interview next week to work at Universal Studios,” Jording said.

Kathy Doherty, a hostess at the Sunset Beach Tropical Grill says that in a trade where tourism dictates the quantity of tips, they have to follow the travelers.

“People actually are thinking of relocating just so that they don’t have to rely on their money coming in from season or the busy period. Some of them are quitting and going back to like Ohio just to get away from here, Doherty said.

Even if here is where they want to be.

Many of the workers WINK News spoke with said they hope as soon as red tide clears, business will pick up and they can move back.

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