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Liveaboards damaged by Hurricane Ian may be covered by FEMA

Boat Damamge By Ian Bayles.JPG
By Tom Bayles
/
WGCU
Boaters inspect what's left of their vessels, which were swept by storm surge more than 100 feet inland from Matanzas Pass onto San Carlos Island days after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Lee County on Sept. 28, 2022

Among the billions of dollars worth of destruction caused by Hurricane Ian are several Lee County marinas where some people live in their boats year-round, including the Fort Myers Yacht Basin and Legacy Harbor, among many others in the region.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is reminding liveaboards that a home does not need to be tied to a concrete foundation on land to be considered as a valid residence.

“Living on a boat is a unique situation, but you may qualify for FEMA assistance,” said La-Tanga Hopes, a FEMA spokeswoman. That “should pique the interest of many sailors who call their vessel ‘home.’”

That means if a houseboat or sailing vessel was one’s primary residence when Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida Sept. 28 – and the boat sustained hurricane damage – disaster recovery assistance may be available.

Mike Root, assistant vice president of claims for Geico Marine Insurance, said it is too early to tell the exact dollar amount of damage Hurricane Ian did to boats insured by his company as he inspected damage in Fort Myers recently, but he had an educated guess. Geico Marine Insurance provides coverage to BoatUS members.

“Definitely in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Root told the Waterway Guide, which provides local knowledge about moorings and marinas to traveling mariners. “For the industry, I would think that it will go into the billion-dollar range total.”

Hopes, from FEMA, said those effected should have the physical location and complete address of the dock or marina, as well as the slip or mooring number, if the boat was not located on private property.

“For the industry, I would think that it will go into the billion-dollar range total.” — Mike Root, assistant vice president of claims for Geico Marine Insurance, on Hurricane Ian's damage to boats alone.

You cannot use a post office box number as your primary address, but you can use it as a mailing address.

The designated counties are Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Glades, DeSoto. Highlands, Okeechobee, Brevard, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia.

You can begin your application online at DisasterAssistance.gov, visit a Disaster Recovery Center or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. The line is answered every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.