Updates on Selby Gardens, Mote and Historic Spanish Point After Hurricane Irma

"We got super lucky, didn't we?"

By Ilene Denton September 12, 2017

Selby gardens hurricane cleanup ayrmmt

Selby Gardens' Mischa Kirby, Jennifer Rominiecki, Mike McLaughlin and Roger Capote on clean-up detail after Hurricane Irma.

Selby Gardens

“It could have been so much worse,” says Marie Selby Botanical Gardens executive director Jennifer Rominiecki. “All of the iconic trees that everyone loves are still OK—the banyans, the Moreton bay fig, the wedding oak, the bunya-bunya tree—and so are all of the collections—our rare plants, our preserved and spirits collections, our library books.”

A gumbo-limbo tree on the south point was uprooted, and staff was busy Monday and Tuesday morning cleaning up other small downed trees, branches and debris. “There were broken panes of glass in the conservatory, but not a lot,” she says. “All the glasshouse collections are unscathed. It’s amazing.”

The Gardens plans to put out a call today for its volunteers to come help if they can. “If they can bring rakes, that would be helpful,” says Rominiecki. “We have a lot to clean up, but I’m ecstatic. It could have been so much worse. All things considered, we feel it’s a miracle.”

Rominiecki says they are aiming to reopen before the weekend; visit for updates.

Historic Spanish Point

“We got super lucky, didn’t we?” says John McCarthy, executive director of Historic Spanish Point, the 30-acre outdoor bayfront museum in Osprey. None of the historical or reproduction buildings sustained damage, and neither did the replica boats. “Volunteers filled them with water, which kept them heavy and in place, so the boat yard came through fine,” says McCarthy. Several big oak trees on the property were uprooted, as were some beautiful ancient cedar trees in the fern garden behind the Guptill House, “but not the trees we are most famous for, like out on the point,” he says.

The Historic Spanish Point team is busy raking trails, pulling broken limbs out of trees and making the property safe for opening the primary trails Thursday. “If people want to come out and enjoy the fresh air, and bring their dogs, we’ll be open then,” he says.

And the Osprey library that’s housed in the museum’s visitor center reopened today, Tuesday—one of only two public county libraries open today. (The other is Selby Library downtown.)

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Mote Aquarium plans to reopen Wednesday morning, says public relations manager Shelby Isaacson. “I just walked the whole facility, all the animals are fine and happy, and otherwise the facility just has some trees and branches down,” she told us Tuesday morning. “We really lucked out.”

Mote did not evacuate its animals pre-Irma. “The underwater animals are safe, and as for our air-breathing animals—[manatees] Hugh and Buffett and the turtles—we had plans in place to work with a facility inland but didn’t have to evacuate them. Their caregivers stayed on-site with them. That’s the best, because [moving them] really stresses them out. Everybody’s good.” 

Mote after irma bo4hbn

Street flooding in front of Mote.



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