From Chad Gillis of Fort Myers News-Press, 9/21/2018:
Two nasty algal blooms have killed not only tons of marine life in Southwest Florida but also part of the economy.
Hundreds of surveys aimed at assessing economic damages were filled out this summer by business owners in counties impact by the blue-green algae and red tide blooms.
Katie Fischer with White Boot Seafood Company in Matlacha is one of the owners. She said said her family suffered its worst month in their five years of selling seafood and serving lunch.
“We were down about 30 percent (in August) and this month we’re on track to do the same thing,” Fischer said.
More than 320 Department of Economic Opportunity online surveys about business impacts and losses were completed for both episodes through Sept. 13, Department of Economic Opportunity records show.
… “We’ve had an incredibly bad red tide bloom that didn’t’ seem to go away during the last winter and so a lot of folks see it as the perfect storm,” said Wells, whose business was represented in the survey results. “Word has gotten out about it and people are hesitant to spend time in our area.”
… Business owners filled out 166 surveys for the Lake Okeechobee event and 164 for the red tide. Lee County business owners filled out 102 surveys for the Lake Okeechobee event and 36 for the red tide.
On the blue-green algae side, 152, or 92 percent of business owners said they suffered damages or economic losses, but 93 percent of those businesses are still open.
Eighty-four, or 51 percent, said the were suffering from a lack of customers.
Perhaps the most striking number is the financial losses category, which shows that 126, or 76 percent of businesses, lost $500,000 or more.