Nearly 1,500 vessels impacted by Hurricane Irma have been removed from state waters over the past month and a half, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Almost three-fourths were in the Florida Keys, where 1,101 vessels have been taken out of the water. The updated numbers came as additional removal barges are arriving this week to support the work in the Keys. Many of the vessels have been removed by the boat owners themselves, while state and federal agencies also have been involved in removals.
“Responders are actively removing displaced vessels that pose a potential environmental threat,” U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “Vessels that are actively leaking are our top priority, and we are working with the vessel and property owners, using Florida state laws, to determine the best method to mitigate the impacts of Irma on a vessel-by-vessel basis.”
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said owners of sunken vessels can release ownership through a waiver from the commission if the owners don't have the resources for repairs or the boats have been deemed beyond repair.
Along Florida's Southwest coast, from St. Petersburg to Collier County, 265 boats have been removed, including a 34-foot sailboat that was partially blocking a residential canal in Cape Coral. Along the Southeast coast, 69 boats have been removed. In the Northeast, 57 boats have been removed, and Coast Guard crews this week were overseeing the removal of a 68-foot vessel on the Trout River.
Hurricane Irma made landfall Sept. 10 in the Keys and Collier County before moving up the state.