Shrimpers in Florida losing millions after Hurricane Ian

Southeast

(NewsNation) — Florida shrimpers, already grappling with a struggling industry, are now facing even more devastation after Hurricane Ian — and it could cost them millions.

Jesse Clapham, of Erickson and Jensen Seafood, said his company brings in $10 million a year from shrimping. Ian is a major setback to an industry already playing catch-up, he says.

“You know we’ve been through multiple hurricanes in the past, fuel prices, imported shrimp, and we keep going,” Clapham said.

When the storm first hit, many shrimpers took refuge on their boats.

“It was a bad one, but you seen one hurricane you’ve seen them all,” Clapham said. “When you’re from Florida, you get used to it.”

Bloomberg reports that because diesel prices rose so much this year, the boats couldn’t afford to go to Texas in April, as they usually do, where shrimp are more plentiful. When they stayed in Florida, it put some of them directly in Hurricane Ian’s path.

Dozens of shrimpers cowered inside their boats when Ian hit the state, Bloomberg wrote. After the eight-foot storm surge receded, Bloomberg said most of the boats had been tossed onto the dock, and some crashed into buildings.

“We seen all the water come up here … and the winds start blowing 155 mph,” Kenny Washington of First Mate said. “Ain’t nothing we can do.”

One shrimper, Stephen Phelps, captain of Penny V, said another vessel fell on his boat, taking the whole wheelhouse off, all the way down to the keel.

“This is my life, our livelihood and it’s completely gone,” he said.

Damage estimates for Ian range from $65 billion to $100 billion.

“We need help from the government or the state of Florida,” Clapham said.

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