BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Hurricane Irma-damaged boats have been rotting along Florida shorelines and waterways for two months, but now, the soggy eyesores are finally departing.
The U.S. Coast Guard, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, are in the midst of a $20 million salvage operation to yank the deteriorating vessels out of Florida waterways.
Coast Guard Lieutenant Ed Parvin said he and his staff have spent weeks locating thousands of wrecked and sunken vessels by air, water, and land.
"Some of them were tedious to find because they were up on shore," said Lt Parvin, who is overseeing the Canaveral cleanup operation. "Others had sunken so far that they were difficult to see. Some of them even moved after we tagged them."
Lt. Parvin said, so far, the FEMA-funded statewide effort has resulted in the removal of more than 1,600 hurricane damaged boats. The vessels were unsafe for other boaters, and the environment, said Lt. Parvin. So batteries and dangerous fluids were removed-- before the boats were parked on a holding barge.
The Coast Guard uses the boat number, if one can be found, to notify the owner the boat has been removed from the water. After that, the boat will be held, and is available for pickup by the owner, for 30 days at Brevard Correctional Institute. If it's not claimed, the boat will be junked.