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Southwest Florida Counties Get $3 Million For Red Tide Cleanup

On Sunday, August 5, thousands of dead fished washed onto Anna Maria Island in Manatee County due to a red tide aglae bloom that's creeping more and more north of the state's west coast.
Jessica Meszaros
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

State officials are providing more money to Southwest Florida counties affected by the red tide outbreak that is sending waves of dead fish onshore and into neighborhood canals.

Lee County, which has been hit the hardest, is getting $2 million and Manatee County will receive $750,000 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Manatee County has already contracted with the private disaster management company Aptim to help with its cleanup efforts.

Manatee spokesman Nick Azzara said it has allocated more than $500,000 to Aptim to help with scooping out the dead fish that are moving into neighborhoods. 

"We've amended our contract with that vendor to be able to go into those residential canals and waterways and expand the cleanup effort farther inland," he said.

Governor Rick Scott's office announced Wednesday that Sarasota County will also receive nearly $100,000 for its beaches. Collier and Martin County will get $190,000 and $700,000, respectively.

In addition to new cleanup efforts, the money can also be used to reimburse local governments that have been trying to manage the red tide outbreak since it began in November 2017.

Charlie Hunsicker, Parks and Natural Resources Director for Manatee County, said local officials are spending the week assessing if they need to use additional resources to deal with the red tide flows around Sarasota Bay.

"There are rafts of floating fish maybe 40 or 50 feet wide that persist for over a mile, all the way down to Ringling," Hunsicker said. "Like sand dunes moving across a desert floor, these fish continue to roll in."

Manatee County declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, hoping to tap into any state or federal disaster aid that may become available. Dozens of volunteers are also helping clear beaches of dead fish. And the county is hiring temporary employees to help with clean up. Details are available here.

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Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.