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Homosassa community rallies to help Bonnie 'The Bait Lady' get back on the water

Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-11 18:52:16-04

HOMOSASSA, Fla. — The fishing community in Homosassa is coming together to help a local woman known as "The Bait Lady" get back on the water after her boat capsized.

Bonnie Van Allen has been selling live bait to fisherman, and ice cream to their kids, for more than 20 years.

"Legend" and "Treasure" are a few of the words used by residents to described Bonnie.

"She is Homosassa treasure with one amazing back story," a GoFundMe set up for her reads.

On August 30. Bonnie knew she was in trouble when a storm in the Gulf hit before she could get back to shore.

“I said I’m sinking. Call the Coast Guard. He’s where I am.”

Tanks filled with bait fish and shrimp started falling over and the 79-year-old jumped into the water.

“I wasn’t afraid. I was very sad because I was treading water, and watching my business and my boat go down.”

She tread water until a rescue crew could get to her. Though she was okay, she thought her boat was gone.

But, the Homosassa fishing community takes care of their own. They hauled her boat back in and now Joe Finn and company are getting it back into ship shape.

“We are going to make sure that she gets back on the water because we need her. So that’s kind of selfish isn’t it,” said Finn.

The boat needs a lot done, but these guys are planning on working seven days a week until it’s ready.

A GoFundMe page set up to help with repair costs has already raised more than $22,000.

“It’s just these incredibility generous, kind group of people sharing, watch out for me, take care of me. The people here are very special,” said Van Allen.