STUART (CBSMiami) – The health threat from the algae that is piling up along big parts of Florida’s coast seems to be decreasing. However, in at least one coastal town the financial impact is starting to be felt.READ MORE: As US Confirms First Omicron Case, CDC Works To Step Up Testing Requirements
Trina Langstidd’s store, Simple Pleasures, in Stuart is typically packed with shoppers. This holiday weekend, though, she said business is down by 50 to 70 percent, because of the green smelly goo that blankets much of her beloved treasure coast.
“It’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking,” Langstidd said.
Dr. Vincent Encomio said the putrid algae bloom came from Lake Okeechobee when engineers released large amounts of water so nearby towns wouldn’t flood.
“It’s running off so the nutrients are coming with the freshwater, so that combination plus warm temperatures is going to create the conditions to cause these kinds of conditions,” said Encomio, a research scientist at the Florida Oceanographic Society.
The EPA said most test results indicate “low to extremely low levels of toxins” in the water.
A week ago, results showed elevated toxin levels – slightly above low-risk.READ MORE: Arrest Made In Miami-Dade In Connection With Murder Of Palm Beach Gardens Boy
But the images from above look awful, and on the ground the smell is chasing people away from the coast.
“This beach is usually packed. You can’t even find a space, a parking space whenever we come at whatever time of day or afternoon and it’s… there’s nobody here,” resident Rose Rosario said.
The algae can cause rashes, respiratory problems and, if ingested, can cause liver and kidney damage.
There are also big concerns for marine life.
“They’re going to be very low in oxygen to almost no oxygen and that will be a severe impact on any wildlife that might make it through here,” Encomio said.
It’s already keeping people away from the small businesses in this quaint coastal town. And for Langstidd, it’s also personal.MORE NEWS: Asian American Artists Celebrated During Art Basel: 'Through Hardships, We Could Look At Diversity And See It As Strength'
“This is all about Florida. The people, the wildlife, the land and the water,” Langstidd said.