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Nearly 75 percent of the Hurricane Irma damaged or destroyed boats removed from Florida waters have come from the Keys, the U.S. Coast Guard says.
As of last week, 2,069 “displaced” vessels had been removed from Florida waters. Of those, 1,500 came from the Florida Keys.
Hurricane Irma slammed the Keys as a Category 4 on Sept. 10. It crushed the Lower Keys and much of Marathon, as well as some areas of the Upper Keys.
“We are making significant progress along the east coast of Florida and the Keys thanks to our partnerships and the tremendous help of vessel owners taking initiative,” said Jay Marvin, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission incident commander for what is called ESF-10 Florida. “We couldn’t be as successful as we have been were it not for vessel owners assisting with the removal process, contributing to our efforts. Our success is their success.”
ESF-10 is officially called Emergency Support Function 10 Florida. It is composed of the FWC, Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. About 160 people from those agencies are removing the boats. They are prioritizing the vessels based on potential negative environmental impacts.
Boat owners are encouraged to hire a salvage company to recover their vessels. For guidelines and best practices, go to http://myfwc.com/boating/vessel-hotline/removal.
Owners of displaced boats who lack the resources to have their boat repaired, or if their vessel is determined to be beyond repair, can release ownership through a waiver provided by the FWC. The waiver process can be initiated by contacting the FWC at 305-985-3744 and requesting to turn over a displaced vessel. An FWC representative will then contact the owner to explain the waiver process and facilitate the potential turnover of ownership.