PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It wasn’t long after reports on the Piney Point breach made national news that Jason Patino started getting phone calls.
“And it’s freaking everybody out,” said Patino. “And so I’m getting calls like, ‘we’ve got to cancel now because now we can’t go in the water.’ I say, ‘well my beach hasn’t closed.'”
Patino owns rental properties in Gulfport in Pinellas County, miles away from Piney Point. Yet, he feels the national media would make you believe the entire state is in trouble.
“They said on Google, just type it in the web, and it says Florida declares state of emergency,” said Patino. “You know what I mean? Doesn’t say Manatee County.”
The last few years have been hard on property owners and managers in Florida. First red tide, then the COVID-19 pandemic and now Piney Point. It’s difficult to sell a vacation destination when travel isn’t allowed, or that destination is less than desirable. In this case, Patino believes neither is the case.
Jason Mooney is a property manager for Island Vacation Properties in Manatee County. His company manages more than two hundred vacation rentals.
“We have about 240 different vacation rentals right here on Anna Maria Island,” said Mooney, who is also fielding calls from clients expressing their concerns. “Well, they are saying, well there is no way that I’m coming there. You guys have been ruled as a disaster area, there is a state of emergency and the water that you would want us to swim in is radioactive.”
Both property managers believe the long-term effects of the spill are still an unknown. Patino points out that there have been numerous sewage and other spills into the bay that initially sounded worse than they actually were.
“I just don’t think it’s the apocalyptic, end of all times in Tampa Bay that the national news is making it out to be,” said Patino. “It’s just another spill. We’ve had a lot of them. It goes away.”
Patino is advising his clients to educate themselves on the issues surrounding the breach, before making a decision.
“And if we are able to educate them as to what the problem really is, we can save our cancellations,” said Patino. “And our guests can come and have a good time in Florida.”