Ceiling tiles have been removed and water dried up at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport after a portion of the roof was damaged by Hurricane Ian. Operations resume this afternoon.
Some 48 hours after its suffered roof damage in the passenger ticketing area, the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is set to resume normal operations Friday afternoon.
Between 3:30 and 4 p.m. Wednesday, wind from Hurricane Ian burrowed beneath a 100-by-100-foot section of the fabric membrane covering that area of the roof, peeled it back and, for several hours, rainwater leaked inside.
Thanks to nearly round-the-clock efforts of airport maintenance personnel and disaster mitigation professionals, SRQ President and CEO Rick Piccolo said the airport will be open and operational in time for its first flight since it shut down prior to the storm — a scheduled Southwest Airlines arrival at 3:45 p.m. Most of SRQ's carriers, he said, plan to resume flights on Saturday.
Water didn’t pour into the terminal. The membrane covers other roofing materials, but eight hours of leeching rainwater caused plenty of damage.
“The ceiling tiles were coming down, so we sat down around 6 p.m. and said how are we gong to address this?” Piccolo said. “We decided to take the whole ceiling down, all the ceiling tiles throughout because you can’t let passengers come in and we just think we got all the bad ones, so we deduced to take the whole ceiling down.”
Removal of the ceiling tiles was completed Thursday morning, allowing clearing of debris and drying the water to begin. Because storm shutdown protocols include covering all electronic equipment with heavy gauge plastic, none of the computers were damaged.
Minus the white ceiling tiles the ticketing area will look a bit spartan for now, but restoration efforts will begin immediately.
“We’ll have some big projects because we will have to put a whole new ceiling in there and a new roof over the ticket wing,” Piccolo said. “We’re still waiting for the roofing company so we can get in and repair the roof, but after a hurricane things get dry so we at least have a couple of days we think to get those areas tightened up.”
The first scheduled arrival of the day is a 3:45 p.m. flight by Southwest Airlines from St. Louis. The first departure is scheduled at 4:35 p.m. by Southwest Airlines to Chicago-Midway.
This article originally published on sister site YourObserver.com.