During Hurricane Ian, shrimpers rode out the storm on boats. Now they're left without work




Shrimping boat workers Javier Allan Lopez, left, 34, and Oriel Martinez Alvarado, 51, sit in the shade of one of the shrimp boats.
Shrimping boat workers Javier Allan Lopez, left, 34, and Oriel Martinez Alvarado, 51, sit in the shade of one of the shrimp boats.  

The "Eights & Aces" precariously perch on land near the Trico Shrimp Co. in Matanzas Harbor. Under the shadow cast by the shrimping boat's black and white hull, sailors Oriel Martinez Alvarado and Javier Allan Lopez took a breather.

Dozens of flip flops and HEYDUDE boat shoes - paired and unpaired - had floated in likely from a store in Times Square in Fort Myers Beach. They and others collected their finds on Friday afternoon amid lumber, furniture and toys strewn about the shipyard, and placed them on a concrete pole that had toppled over in the storm.

Dozens of pairs of shoes rest on a ledge Friday, Sept.
Dozens of pairs of shoes rest on a ledge Friday, Sept.  

The shrimping industry's long history in Fort Myers Beach, the largest commercial shrimping fleet in the Gulf of Mexico, came to a crashing halt as Hurricane Ian's storm surge tossed around massive boats like bath toys, most of them now stuck on land.

As the area is home to the largest commercial shrimping fleet in the Gulf of Mexico, work in the area is reliable. But now, Martinez, Lopez and other shrimpers are out of a job indefinitely.

Devastation: Hurricane Ian wiped out Pine Island and Matlacha

'Fort Myers Beach is gone': Waterfront workers recount Hurricane Ian devastation

"We have family waiting on us, and we have nothing. That's our worry," Martinez said in Spanish.

Ahead of Ian, it was too late to evacuate. So they passed the entirety of the storm on the shrimp boats.

"There wasn't any time to leave or move away because the highway was already congested," Martinez said. "If we were hit while on the highway, we could have been killed, so we couldn't leave. We were stuck there."

The \"Capt Lain\", \"Big Daddy\" and \"Miz Shirley\" shrimping boats lay in various states of damage near Trico Shrimping Co. on Fort Myers Beach on Friday. Hurricane Ian passed through the region Wednesday afternoon tossing them ashore.
The \"Capt Lain\", \"Big Daddy\" and \"Miz Shirley\" shrimping boats lay in various states of damage near Trico Shrimping Co. on Fort Myers Beach on Friday. Hurricane Ian passed through the region Wednesday afternoon tossing them ashore.  

During the storm, Martinez and Lopez worried that the boat they were on, the Miz Shirley, might sink. So they crossed onto the Big Daddy with two other sailors.

"The whole boat was turning round and round," Lopez said.

The passage was dangerous. Martinez hit and injured his leg. They prayed for their safety.

A pair of shrimp boats are beached Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, near Trico Shrimp Company on San Carlos Island after Hurricane Ian passed through the region Wednesday afternoon.
A pair of shrimp boats are beached Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, near Trico Shrimp Company on San Carlos Island after Hurricane Ian passed through the region Wednesday afternoon.  

"All you could do, believing in God, because it was life or death," Martinez said.

"Nothing else left to do," Lopez added.

In the storm's wake, information is limited. They haven't heard from their employer, and any news is brought from passers-by.

"For now we're thinking of staying here because they said a project is coming. So we're hoping to get some work," Martinez said.

'We've done it before': Residents confident Pine Island will rebuild after Hurricane Ian

100122 Ian Folo Al 510 Shrimping boat workers Javier Allan Lopez, left, 34, and Oriel Martinez Alvarado, 51, sit in the shade of one of the shrimp boats on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Some of their fellow workers sought shelter on those same boats during Hurricane Ian on Wednesday afternoon near Trico Shrimp Co.
100122 Ian Folo Al 510 Shrimping boat workers Javier Allan Lopez, left, 34, and Oriel Martinez Alvarado, 51, sit in the shade of one of the shrimp boats on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Some of their fellow workers sought shelter on those same boats during Hurricane Ian on Wednesday afternoon near Trico Shrimp Co.  

They can't leave if they wanted to, as transportation is limited.

"We want to at least work ashore," Lopez said. "Whatever it may be. If we can, we're there."

Hannah Morse covers consumer issues for The Palm Beach Post. Drop a line at hmorse@pbpost.com, call 561-820-4833 or follow her on Twitter @mannahhorse.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: During Hurricane Ian, shrimpers rode out the storm on boats. Now they're left without work

COMMENTS

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America