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GULFPORT, Fla. (WFLA) — People living in Pinellas County are in clean-up mode Thursday morning after waking up to water and debris left behind by Tropical Storm Eta.

Eta battered the Tampa Bay area coastline Wednesday with strong winds and heavy rain. One of the biggest warnings from the NHC ahead of the storm was the combination of high tide and dangerous storm surge from Eta.

The storm surge, heavy rain and high tide appear to have left several boats in the City of Gulfport stranded on the beach.

8 On Your Side had a crew in Gulfport Thursday morning that found several boats up on the shoreline near the Gulfport Casino. The area was surrounded by caution tape due to tangled wires and the impending cleanup.

8 On Your Side’s Christine McLarty spoke with the owner of one of the boats impacted by the storm. He told us his boat – that he just bought in April for about $15,000 – was destroyed.

The rudder snapped in half and there are scrapes and tears along the sides of the boat, he said. He’s now filled with anxiety and confusion as he tries to figure out where to go from here.

High winds also smashed a boat against a fence, leaving it heavily damaged.

A paddleboarder who went out for a ride on the waves Wednesday night told us he got nervous when he saw the boats getting damaged.

“It’s scary because they’re coming towards you and they’re going really fast and the wind would also lift the paddleboard up and lift you into the air as well. And the rip currents,” Roberto Ojeda said. “That dock there was about 100 feet in the air at one point.”

The owner of a nearby business – Salty’s – told us Eta is the worst storm she’s seen in eight years and said she found 8 to 12 inches of water when she showed up to her bar and restaurant Thursday. She said about 10 members of the community rallied together at 8 a.m. to help her clean the water out.


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