HURRICANE HARVEY VIDEO: BoatUS advises good Samaritan boaters to be cautious

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BoatUS is cautioning boaters who are assisting Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts to be careful navigating floodwaters.

“Those people are good Samaritans, God bless them, but sure, there are going to be situations where that could be very tenuous,” BoatUS spokesman Scott Croft told Trade Only Today.

“People want to take care of their neighbors, but it’s a challenge, especially when motoring down your street where two days ago it was bone-dry. You don’t know what’s in the water,” he said.

Catastrophe response teams for BoatUS, one of the nation’s largest insurers of recreational boats, are trying to reach the area, which has been devastated by more than two feet of rain in some areas.

“Our CAT team probably won’t get in there until today or tomorrow earliest,” Croft said. “Houston was shut down, so the team had to go through Dallas. Law enforcement is not allowing anybody in. We’ve got a couple more coming in tomorrow, but plans usually change by the hour because it looks like there’s going to be as many issues inland as on the coast.”

Here is an Associated Press video of boats performing rescues in Dickinson, Texas:

As was the case after Hurricane Sandy, people are rightfully trying to get to safety first and then focusing on repairing and rebuilding their homes, Croft said. When they get their lives somewhat settled, they will come back to assess the damage to their boats.

Hurricane Sandy, which devastated New York and New Jersey with its unprecedented storm surge, damaged 65,000 boats and caused $650 million worth of damage. “Sandy is still here,” Melissa Danko, executive director of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, told Trade Only in 2015. “We see Hurricane Sandy everywhere.”

Croft urged those who might be tempted to go check on boats in marinas to wait out the storm.

“People are usually more focused on their homes, but a lot of people try to get into their boats,” Croft said. “We tell people, if you can be in contact with your marina or yard, chances are they won’t want you to be there for safety reasons. There’s often fuel on the ground — I remember visiting one marina after Hurricane Sandy and it smelled like a diesel yard because of all the fuel spills, which presents fire hazards. Marinas don’t want you around.”

Croft also cautioned boaters trying to get back on the water after the floodwaters subside.

“After a storm there’s always a concern for recreational boaters to hit the water,” Croft said. “The bottoms change always, especially in shallow areas. There could be a shoal flat there today that wasn’t there yesterday. And debris is always an issue, especially in congested waters.”

Read more about Hurricane Harvey as it develops in Tuesday’s issue of Trade Only Today.

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