63,000 boats damaged or destroyed
Two fall hurricanes that battered Texas and Florida also did remarkable damage to recreational vessels in those states.
According to the Boat Owners Association of The United States, or BoatUS, more than 63,000 recreational boats were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Harvey, which struck in late August, and Hurricane Irma, which hit Florida about two weeks later. BoatUS estimates these vessels sustained a combined $655 million in damage.
“These numbers are strikingly close to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which remains the single-largest industry loss with more than 65,000 boats damaged and more than $650 million in estimated losses,” the group said in a news release.
Hurricane Irma, which rammed into Florida as a Category 4 storm, damaged or destroyed almost 50,000 vessels representing $500 million in losses. Hurricane Harvey, another Category 4 storm that made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, was affected about 13,500 boats with $155 million in estimated losses.
“These two storms were as different as night and day,” BoatUS Marine Insurance Program Vice President of Claims Rick Wilson said in a statement. “The boats that were hit the hardest by Harvey were located on a relatively small slice of Texas coast, while we saw damage to recreational vessels from Irma in every corner of Florida.”
“While Hurricane Irma’s losses are significant, it could have been much worse,” Wilson continued. “Irma ultimately traveled up Florida’s West Coast and not the East, which was initially forecast. And while locations in the right front quadrant of the storm such as Big Pine Key and Marathon were hit hard with a Category 4 storm, Irma lost strength as it approached the mainland and swept up Florida. As the storm passed east of Tampa Bay, waters receded and came back gradually, also lessening surge damage.”
BoatUS sent a field team to oversee repairs, salvage and removal of wrecked boats. Official operations in both states undertaken by the Coast Guard and local authorities were ongoing as of early November.