‘As Much Damage as I Thought’: USCG Surveys Irma Destruction

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The U.S. Coast Guard took their first look Tuesday at some places Hurricane Irma struck in South Florida, performing inspections on waterways and trying to determine if damaged or disabled vessels can cause more damage.

Officials say there is naturally concern over maritime vessels, marinas, and potential pollution.

“It’s about as much damage as I thought there was going to be,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Adam Polacek said after his crew surveyed some of the damage on Miami Beach. “I’m just happy damage and structure to boats and no harm to any people.”

Polacek carefully maneuvered his vessel around sailboats that had been toppled, boats that were tied at the dock but that didn’t seem to matter. Some ended up out of the water and came to rest on dry land. For some sailboats made to cope with high winds, Irma left her mark on them too.

Hurricane Irma Damage as Seen From Above South Florida

[NATL] Hurricane Irma Damage as Seen From Above South Florida

“The mask is probably one of the strongest parts of a sailboat and for that to buckle it’s definitely a tremendous amount of force that’s going on,” Polacek said.

At the Dinner Key Marina, some of the high end vessels took a beating. On small islands out the Bay, Irma parked vessels along the way.

The USCG isn’t just concerned about damage to vessels on the marina, they are also worried about pollution too. They are doing a check to see if there is any pollution out in Biscayne Bay.

“Surprisingly, it’s looking better than expected with the number of vessels that are sunken or in bad shape,” USCG Lt. Nicole Corbett said. “We saw minimal pollution threat. We are going to continue to monitor that to make sure that all the threat of oil and pollution is mitigated to the environment.”

While the USCG team does its inspections, it’s on the ready if a call comes for the mission to turn into a search and rescue operation.

The Coast Guard is also conducting wellness checks in the Keys and is urging anyone who has lost contact with someone to call 800-323-7233.

Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

The Coast Guard is getting more of its assets and personnel back. Some went to Houston during Harvey and other are out on the West Coast of Florida helping out there.

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