Officials battle over algae blooms on Florida beaches


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Slimy and smelly algae blooms are wreaking havoc on some Florida beaches, and the issue has become politicized with a U.S. Senate candidate and the governor’s office butting heads.

Patrick Murphy's office asked the Small Business Administration to hold off on a business relief announcement for people affected by invasive algae blooms. He wanted to do it at a Thursday press conference. The SBA had no problem, but Gov. Rick Scott's office did. The announcement was made Wednesday night.

The email chain was posted to the state’s Project Sunburst email database. Murphy’s office denied that the congressman wanted to delay any aid and suggested the governor’s office was playing politics with the emails they released.

The business relief center is open and aims to help a handful of counties affected.

"We are seeing that with the algae blooms there is economic injury to businesses within the effected counties," said Cissy Proctor, of the Department of Economic Opportunity. "So we've gotten about 60 applications so far."

Businesses have the ability to get a quick low interest loan to help alleviate the hits on their bottom line.

"For instance, a fishing charter will say I've got customers who are cancelling the reservations to go on the fishing charter because of the fact that the algae blooms are occurring in the water," Proctor said. "It could be a restaurant on the beach, people may not want to go sit on a restaurant on the beach because of what's going on."

Murphy is in the middle of a U.S. Senate campaign, and the email flap has already provided fodder for some opponents. On the business side, business owners can see if they qualify for a loan by going to disasterloan.sba.gov.

Businesses in 20 Florida counties are eligible to apply for the loans.