Officials in Florida have started evicting squatters from homes they had occupied on an island known for drug usage.
Detective Mike Wallace of the Port Orange Police Department said that the disassembly was done out of concern for safety. On social media, the region is referred to as “Meth Island” and has several hand-built wooden buildings, including a four-story treehouse and other houses made of reclaimed wood and tree branches. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office recently made some video footage that showed off these buildings.
On the island at Port Orange, next to the Dunlawton Bridge, the squatters had even installed a trampoline and were working to construct a swimming pool. Authorities want to address the issue that they had also placed booby traps to dissuade tourists on surrounding islands.
Authorities Respond to Island Hazards and Drug Use
According to South Daytona Police Department Lieutenant Kevin Pedri, there were signs of drug and alcohol usage on the island.
The signs, which urged visitors to leave the island within 48 hours, were approved by Florida law enforcement. Authorities took this move because squatter activities are risky and the makeshift dwellings pose risks to both the residents of the islands and those in the surrounding area, particularly during hurricane season.
Pedri mentioned the potential for storm-related construction debris to be scattered, perhaps damaging adjacent boats and structures. The mangrove population on the island, which is crucial for shielding the area from storm surges, was also threatened by the buildings, which were likely made of stolen or salvaged wood.
Police authorities also voiced worries that the existence of a trampoline and a fancy treehouse may draw kids to the area, which might perhaps result in accidents when mixed with drinking.
When they put up the no trespassing signs, law officers found nobody on the island. The weather has prevented the police from returning to the island yet, although they do have plans to do so soon.
The island is now being returned to its natural form through the demolition of several constructions by the local public works department. According to a Port Orange Police Department spokeswoman, the islands are governed by a number of regional organizations.