Punta Gorda establishes Hurricane Ian Seawall Recovery Project

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Canals saw massive damage during Hurricane Ian, and one city is working to repair them.

Punta Gorda has started the Hurricane Ian Seawall Recovery Project.

Tim Buch wasn’t in his Punta Gorda Home during the hurricane but certainly felt the storm’s effects.

“Our neighbor went out. We said, ‘Well, how’s the boat?’ And he said, ‘What boat?'” Buch said.

In addition to his boat, the seawall outside Buch’s home took quite a punch.

“It collapsed from the bottom, and it’s up against the supports for the dock, and as a result, most of the backyard went out into the canal,” Buch said, “so it’s been coming closer and closer to the house.”

When crews showed up in his backyard bright and early Wednesday morning, Buch couldn’t have been happier.

“We’ve waited for a lot of months to see the barge coming down the canal. It was a very welcome sight,” he said.

Buch’s seawall is one of an estimated 580 properties that the city of Punta Gorda, along with FEMA, is in the process of repairing as part of its seawall project.

Chris Fankhauser, the canal maintenance outreach coordinator for the City of Punta Gorda, said Ian’s damage to the city’s canal system was near catastrophic.

“You can see a total collapse, which in some areas, that means the seawall is completely into the canal,” Fankhauser said. “You’ll have the top part of the seawall starting to lean over into the canal, you could have it kick out from the bottom.”

The city’s recovery plan has been in the works since the storm hit. Buch is now one step closer to getting his backyard paradise back.

“We lost the season but hopefully we will be all set for next season when it comes around,” Buch said. “So it’d be nice to have that waterfront back for sure.”

Click here for more information on the progress of canal restoration.

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