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Homeowner still dealing with destroyed, rogue boat from Hurricane Idalia

FWC has no timeline for derelict vessel removals
Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-02 16:46:14-05

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — A North Fort Myers homeowner is still feeling the impact from Hurricane Idalia. More than 125 days later, she still has a rogue boat in her backyard.

Fox 4 spoke to Angie Cloutier back in August 2023 after the rogue boat washed up onto her lawn. When the tide receded, it went back into the water and destroyed her dock.

"It's sunk, it's over," Cloutier said.

The last storm brought the boat back up.

"We only had three foot surge, but it was enough to make it come up on the lawn," Cloutier said.

It's now about 100 feet off of her seawall, but she can still see it from her backyard.

"It’s a little bit better that it’s a little bit further out cause it’s not all you see," she said.

Cloutier says the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in charge of removing derelict vessels, stopped responding after she claims they told her a bid was going out to a contractor to remove it in October.

"But I don’t know if they picked a contractor because I’m not getting responses anymore," she said. "It's frustrating."

Fox 4 senior reporter Kaitlin Knapp reached out and FWC said it's being investigated and will provide updates when available. The agency went on to say:

We make every effort to work with the vessel owners to remove the vessel from state waters themselves to minimize the cost to taxpayers. When owners do not remove the vessels themselves, FWC works with licensed contractors to perform removal, destruction and equipment and cannot confirm or guarantee a removal timeline.

Derelict vessels are a priority for the FWC. The Division of Law Enforcement’s Boating and Waterways Section is spearheading a multi-year effort to dramatically reduce the backlog of derelict vessels currently on the waters of the state. Unfortunately, derelict vessels continue to be documented by law enforcement on an ongoing basis.

No one has removed it. Fox 4 reached out to the alleged owners and they have not responded.

This isn't the only boat like this.

FWC says there are around 923 active derelict vessels in the state. As of Dec 1, 2023, there are 629 derelict vessels in the process of being removed or have been.

"These cases are being investigated by FWC and local law enforcement as potential crimes if they are not brought into compliance or removed by the owners," a spokesperson said in a statement.

With no timeline, Cloutier calls the situation ridiculous.

"It’s not my fault the thing is up there, yet I’m the one that has to deal with it every day," she said. "Because it’s upside down now it’s breaking apart in pieces, so where are those pieces going."

Just like when we talked to Cloutier in August, she says she will still not spend her own money to remove it.

"I’m just going to let it sit. It’s not my — I have enough going on because of the hurricane," she said.

FWC is working on our request to see if a contract has gone out to bid to remove it.