NewsPinellas County


Business owners in Tarpon Springs are hunkering down for Hurricane Ian

Boat captains, business owners at Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks prepare for the worst
Boat captain Bill Gresko in Tarpon Springs.
Posted at 4:24 PM, Sep 26, 2022

PINELLAS, Fla. — Even on sunny days, during king tides, the streets around the Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs flood.

Locals tell me anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of water cover the road in low-lying areas.

As Ian approaches, it is expected to intensify rapidly and the storm's path will determine how bad it is in Tarpon Springs.

"But now that I'm close to the water is concerning, just with how we've been seeing the trends and things like that of how close we are to the water. It is scary," Meagan Gunsteens told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska.

We talked to Gunsteens and her dad David as they filled 75 sandbags to stack up against the back door of their business, the Tea and Spice Exchange.

Gunsteens said they purchased the company in February, and this is their first time preparing for a major storm.

"Planning has been good so far. Yeah. Thankfully, the city is really helpful with sandbags and helping everybody get prepared, and we're tarping and sealing our windows and stuff," Gunsteens said. "I'd rather pre-stress, and nothing happens; better safe than sorry, I guess."

Gunsteens said their store has about $250,000 worth of spices and loose teas. If any of it gets wet, it is ruined. So they plan to seal the doors with tape and stack sandbags five feet high.

"I've been monitoring; we put together a plan and a contingency plan yesterday and said I took the day off of work and to come down here and do this," David Gunsteens said. "So, it looks like we're going to be, you know, having to wait one more day before we really know which way it's gonna go."

Boat captain Bill Gresko tells Paluska he remembers the no-name storm of March 1993. He saw how bad that was and knows this could be far worse.

"We had water this high (shows arm up to the waist) right where I am standing," Gresko said. "I've been worried about my boat since. I've had a feeling on this one since the very beginning."

The last major hurricane to hit the Tampa Bay region was Oct. 25, 1921.

We reported on the event for a special Full Circle report highlighting the damage in Tarpon Springs.