If you’ve been reading my bit, ‘From the Helm,’ over the last couple of months, you know I’ve been down in southwest Florida working the waterway recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian. The damage to the communities was, and still is, enormous.
However, the sad reality is that the disaster recovery industry is just as disheartening as the disaster itself. The recovery efforts are greatly impeded by corruption and collusion between the debris haulers, cleanup crews, and monitoring companies. I personally witnessed destruction to the fisheries beyond what the storms could ever do.
The contractors get paid by volume, not material. To increase profits, they were using small river barges with mechanical grapple claws to rip out mangroves and other organics while passing by actual storm related debris. After talking to others that have been in the disaster recovery industry for years this is apparently standard operating procedure. When I tried to report the violations I was witnessing I was “let go”.
So now I’m back here in Northeast Florida and ready to re-engage with the Club and its activities. I have found a renewed passion for waterway conservation and hope to bring this fresh energy into our community, inspiring members, friends and our youth anglers to protect the natural world around us.