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Islamorada fishermen, marinas struggle in aftermath of Hurricane Irma

Craig Davis, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Outdoors

The long, outer dock was completely washed away and other mooring areas severely damaged.

Nonetheless, most of the buildings held up well, and Stanczyk said he feels fortunate, noting others who lost everything. He spoke to a fishing guide who had his possessions in a home on Lower Matecumbe Key and returned from Alaska to find it all gone.

"He's just out on the road," Stanczyk said. "Those types of situations are tragic. Where I can reach into my pocket or a bank and find the funds to put this thing back on its feet, there are many, many people here who are not going to be able to do that."

That's why the rush is on to get the marina operational again, and the fishermen are scrambling over Bud N' Mary's like a swarm of army ants to help expedite the process.

"Lots of people are working together trying to get things back up and running," said backcountry guide Max Gaspeny. "We all want to get back fishing again."

The rebuilding effort really is a race against time. Financial survival of families and the community are at stake.

 

Greg Eklund, captain of the offshore fishing boat "Cloud Nine" and president of the Islamorada charter boat association, pointed out the interdependent relationship between the fishermen, hotels, restaurants and other segments of the service industry.

Several of the major hotels on the ocean side of the island sustained significant damage and could be closed for months. People won't come to the Keys to go fishing if they can't find a place to stay.

Eklund also said that the fishing fleets at the Postcard Inn (formerly Holiday Isle) and Whale Harbor will likely be out of commission longer than Bud N' Mary's.

"I'm not just concerned for myself, I'm concerned for the fleet," Eklund said. "All the guys who fish out of the Postcard Inn have been told that they do not have a place to put their boats for six to 12 months."

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