Brevard boats damaged, sunk by Hurricane Irma to take months to be removed

30-40 new derelict vessels following storm, county says

COCOA, Fla. – In what could be a long process removing derelict vessels after Hurricane Irma, leaders of the effort say they're first trying to contact the boats' owners.

"We're still getting a final count, but between 30 and 40 new boats (are) out in the river," Matt Culver, with Brevard County's Natural Resources Department told News 6.

Culver, the Boating and Waterways Program cCoordinator, said Tuesday about 10 of those boats have already been removed by their owners.

Leaders will count on the governor to help discard dozens more.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking Gov. Rick Scott to allocate statewide emergency funding.

"Unfortunately, it's always a long process," Culver said. "Last year, we were looking for grant money, which is our normal process. This year, an emergency authorization would let us hit every boat that sunk during the storm."

The county removed two dozen abandoned boats after Hurricane Matthew.

Culver said Hurricane Irma hit this portion of Brevard County harder than Hurricane Matthew did.

"The number of boats is the same but previously, a lot of those boats sunk in place," Culver said. "The boats weren't up on the waterfront like you're seeing here. Most of the vessels seem to have pushed up on the shoreline and damaged infrastructure like you're seeing here in Cocoa." 

Allan Chapman, with the Historic Cocoa Village Association, said despite the damages, riverfront business and attendance now appear to be back to normal.

"As I take pictures of some of the boats, it's just a constant reminder of just how, in a way, fragile we are and in a way, how strong we are because we'll get them removed and we'll make it work again," said Chapman, the group's executive director.

Culver said his best hope is to have all the wrecked boats that Irma left behind removed within two or three months.

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.