Last Fort Myers Beach shrimp boat grounded by Ian is back in the water after almost 6 months
As the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Ian nears, the last of the grounded shrimp boats was returned to the waters off Fort Myers Beach.
The Sept. 28 storm — its winds and ferocious surge — shoved most of the 40 boats in the historic fleet on shore, battered infrastructure, and brought local shrimping to a standstill.
The sight of the massive steel and fiberglass boats onshore became an iconic reflection of the storm's brutality, drawing disaster tourists who could be spotted cruising along the waterfront and snapping photos.
But captains and boat owners needed real help. Federal and state leaders pledged resources. After one company struggled with some of the boat lifts, the Florida Division of Emergency Management contracted Fort Lauderdale-based Resolve Marine for the $8.45 million recovery project.
Shrimp and Grit: Fighting to save the Fort Myers Beach shrimping fleet after Ian's devastation
Progress after Ian: Half of Fort Myers Beach shrimp boat fleet back in water
Resolve Marine began the complicated job in late December. A single boat often took days to ease into the water, between moving the boat with roller bags and rigging and hoisting the boat with a crane.
Resolve put 27 boats in the water, according to the company. Six boats had to be deconstructed due to the damage sustained during the storm and its aftermath.
The final boat refloated had a fitting name: Rip Tide.
Meanwhile, the local pink shrimp industry has restarted. Several boat captains have been out to fish and say the shrimping is good. Fort Myers Beach is known for its catches of "pink gold." Erickson & Jensen Shrimp Packers sells fresh shrimp to the public at its dockside market.
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Fort Myers Beach: Last shrimp boat returned to water after Ian