On Little Gasparilla Island, Irma washed away Tampa family's 'pink house' leaving barely a trace
It has been a conversation piece for years on Little Gasparilla Island: the "pink house," the one that sat so far out on the beach that people on the balcony could fish from it and get splashed by the surf when the waves came crashing in.
The popular vacation rental, as of today still listed on VRBO for $249 a night as a three bedroom "beach shak" with balcony sunsets, dolphin watching and a rattan couch, was farther out on the beach than any of the surrounding homes, partly thanks to beach erosion since its construction in the late '50s.
Those who'd stayed there said you could feel it sway in the wind.
A photograph shows the pink house practically erased from the beach a day after Hurricane Irma passed by the Charlotte County barrier island.
"Most of us on the island have been bracing for when this one would fall," Tim Hamlin, a Wesley Chapel resident who owns a different vacation home on the island, said. "Thankfully it happened when nobody was staying there."
"Everyone on the island marveled that it was still there," Laurie Gaines, an island resident said.
The home's owner, however, said she'd expected it to survive. The pink house made it through Hurricane Charley, which ravaged nearby Punta Gorda in 2004, and came out unscathed and looking "like it had a great pressure washing," Julie Jenkins, of Tampa said. "But I guess it could only take so much."
Deric Flom, who owns a golf cart rental business on the island, said there was debris washing up in the surf, and the refrigerator and dryer were hundreds of yards down the beach.
Jenkins, a South Tampa resident who has owned the house for close to 20 years with her brother Jeff Cobey, said she received the news of the home's destruction from a former renter as she waited out the storm in a Gainesville hotel room.
"She sent me something saying, 'I'm so sorry about the house,' and I said 'What, what about the house?' Then they sent the photo," Jenkins said. "That house has been through everything. It has been through no-named storms and named storms."
"We've heard from a lot of people," Jenkins continued, choking back tears. "It was an icon. It had a lot of memories for a lot of people, including us."