Brevard County requests $2 million from state to help remove Hurricane Irma debris

50 abandoned boats remain in waters six months after storm

By James Sparvero - Reporter

VIERA, Fla. - The Brevard County Commission Tuesday night unanimously approved sending a letter to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature requesting an additional $2 million to help cleanup after Hurricane Irma.

The county said while 50 derelict boats have been removed since the September storm, another 50 abandoned vessels still need taken care of.

"We've had boats along the river for years that have just been left out there," Cocoa Village riverfront resident Karol Clifton said. 

Clifton and her husband have called the Indian River home for 17 years and in September, the hurricane crashed an abandoned boat through their dock.

"And we can't get down the dock without the makeshift, little access," Clifton pointed out. "My husband is handicapped so he can't take his walker over that bridge." 

In November, the state took away another boat wrecked against the dock, but as Clifton video-recorded, workers did not remove the boat that remains.

Turns out, its owner was arrested in Oregon for abandoning the boat before Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

"It actually was just two seconds from being on the barge," Clifton said. "They put it back in the water because they got a phone call that it was in a court case."

The court case is ongoing.

Brevard County government spokesman Don Walker said any boats not removed before the next hurricane season will contribute to more problems on county waters.

Walker estimated the county needs $2.3 million from lawmakers.

"The ideal situation is to get those waterways clear and for the state to do its due diligence and get that job done," Walker said. 

In addition to receiving more money, Clifton advocates changing laws.

"I think that this shouldn't happen to anyone again," she said. "I think the boat laws should be changed and then maybe this can't happen. It would cost the state a lot less if things were different."

Copyright 2018 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.