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Deadline extended to help owners of Hurricane Ian-wrecked vehicles

A man stands in front of a sailboat turned on its side and beached into dead trees and brush. Only scraps of the sail remain and the bow is sunk into the water.
Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
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The original 45-day grace period to bring derelict vessels into compliance or remove them from state waters under a waiver ended, but the scale of the problem could not be handled in that amount of time.

Hurricane Ian displaced more than 4,000 vessels, vehicles, and trailers. Now that they've been assessed, more than 500 of them are marked as "abandoned."

Hurricane Ian sunk, stranded, or swamped so many vessels that the deadline to have them up and out of the waterways, mangroves, or backyards has been extended.

If you are lucky enough to have a boat, car, motorcycle, all-terrain and vehicle and a trailer to haul it all, but hapless enough to have the 150-mph winds blow it all over the place you just got lucky again. Sort of.

 Hundreds of vessels of all types pushed from moorings by the surge from Hurricane Ian remain in hard-to-reach areas such as this section of mangroves just north of Fort Myers Beach.
NOAA
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Special to WGCU
Hundreds of vessels of all types pushed from moorings by the surge from Hurricane Ian remain in hard-to-reach areas such as this section of mangroves just north of Fort Myers Beach.

Hurricane Ian displaced more than 4,000 vessels, vehicles, and trailers – anything with a registration counts - and now that they've been assessed, more than 500 of them are marked as "abandoned." The number is expected to grow as more vessels are discovered wrecked and, the hope is, removed by their owners’ insurance companies.

Rob Beaton, a major with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in charge of boating and waterways, said owners are still encouraged to hire a salvage company themselves to recover their vessel, but if they cannot afford it, and hand over the title, his agency will coordinate the removal and destruction of the vessel, and owners will not be charged.

The original 45-day grace period to bring derelict vessels into compliance or remove them from state waters under a waiver ended, but the scale of the problem could not be handled that quickly.

Beaton said he is finding that many vessel owners have been displaced out of the area and may be in other states or even out of the country.

“Due to the significant number of vessels impacted by Hurricane Ian and the fact that many residents are still assessing damage,” Beaton said, “We made a decision yesterday afternoon to extend the waiver acceptance time frame through all of December.”

The FWC said if your vessel is missing, or you have located a vessel on state waters displaced by the hurricane, call the agency’s Hurricane Ian Vessel Hotline at (850) 488-5600.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management has assumed the role of coordinating the removal and disposal of vessels investigated by the FWC in Lee and Charlotte counties.

And through a newly created statewide debris cleanup program residents can request the removal of vehicles, vessels, motorcycles, trailers, and ATVs. Go online to IanDebrisCleanup.com for more information.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.
Copyright 2022 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Tom Bayles
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