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Helicopter used to remove boats from mangroves on Fort Myers Beach

Posted at 5:57 PM, Jan 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-27 05:18:33-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Tonight, we're continuing our coverage of the boat removal process throughout Southwest Florida as there are still boats that are stuck... whether that's in the Fort Myers yacht basin, multiple marinas, or all throughout the mangroves.

Fox 4's Elyse Chengery has been working on covering the entire process for months and has a follow-up on a company that's now starting to remove boats from the mangroves.

You wouldn't believe the things you see out in the mangroves from shoes, tables, refrigerators, surfboards, clothing, and materials that were inside people's homes... to boats.

Tyler Marks went on to tell me days prior the crews had to make their way in to cut the boats — all while still trying to protect the mangroves.

"We're working here with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to clean out the mangroves in the most efficient and environmentally friendly way," says Tyler Marks the Executive Director of Operations for the company RJ Gorman Marine Services.

Thursday was the first day of testing out the helicopter for removal... all while officials with the state watched the process. The company hopes to get more funding so it can continue this process. As hundreds of boats are stuck out in the mangroves since Hurricane Ian...

"We’re a marine construction company by trade so we do pilings, foundation, sea walls... we build commercial marinas. We do a little bit of everything obviously after the storm here so there’s going to be quite a bit of that work for us to take care of, so we really want to be here helping and also rebuild. We’re here for the long haul," says Marks.

The boats are then taken to the same property we showed you months ago on Pine Island which used to be a palm tree farm. Since the devastation from Hurricane Ian that area now temporarily houses many boats that have been pulled out of the water throughout Southwest Florida.

And as for the damage that these crews have been working through since Hurricane Ian...

"I mean I've never seen devastation like this, and I've worked storms for the last 20 years," says Marks.