Some BoatUS CAT team members at work for 25th straight day after storms

Publish date:
BoatUS CAT teams on salvage efforts after storms

A member of the BoatUS CAT team assesses a boat damaged by Hurricane Irma.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — When hurricanes strike, first responders leap into action — fire departments, police, National Guard units and medical professionals all converge to help provide aid to people affected by the storms.

Insurance providers, not a category of first responders that typically comes to mind, are there in the wreckage, soothing distraught property owners and working for days on end, climbing over debris in areas that have often just reopened to traffic.

BoatUS, one of the nation’s largest providers of boat insurance, has one of the largest catastrophe response teams it has ever assembled in Florida to assess damage to boats this week.

In this video, BoatUS catastrophe team coordinator Mike McCook works out how to salvage a vessel in a way that will cause the least damage to the boats.

Many members of the BoatUS CAT team were working their 25th day in a row today, having come directly from working long days in Texas recovering boats damaged and destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

BoatUS CAT teams on salvage efforts after storms

BoatUS public affairs vice president Scott Croft is shown with a partly submerged catamaran that his company insures.

The work can be emotionally draining. People, especially here, are attached to their boats in ways that are seldom seen for cars or even homes, said D.J. Smith, a team member who had been working for 20 days straight on Friday.

“They want to talk about the boat,” Smith told Trade Only Today. “They don’t care about the house, but they want to talk about the boat.”

“People will get an emotional attachment to their boats that’s different from their cars, or even homes,” agreed team member Tom Benton, who also wrapped up his 20th day of salvage on Friday.

The result is being part therapist, part salvor.

Bill Pike, of Power & Motoryacht, a sister publication to Trade Only Today, was caught off guard by how emotional people were discussing their damaged or destroyed boats during a trip in which he followed the BoatUS teams last week.

One of the most poignant examples of that raw emotion occurred when he and BoatUS public affairs vice president Scott Croft encountered Carol Hawkins, who had just gotten to her home on Big Pine Key to assess the damage.

She and her daughter, Jennifer Hawkins-Dydra, and son-in-law Jason Dydra had just gotten back to their home an hour before a BoatUS van carrying two reporters rolled up. The three were still taking in the damage.

“We’re literally in shell shock,” Carol Hawkins said.

Despite all the destruction in her yard, somewhat depicted in the video below, Hawkins was sitting close to her 2001 Glacier Bay — her husband had recently passed and this was her connection to him. “I just don’t want to lose her,” Hawkins said, holding back tears.

Despite the destruction of her home and property, partially shown here, Carol Hawkins was most emotional about the prospect of losing her boat.

These are the stories that members of the CAT team hear day in and day out.

“People just want to tell their story about their boat or jet ski,” CAT team member Shawn McGee said. “If you’re a good listener and spend five, seven minutes listening to people tell their story, you can do a better job for them.”


Registration for Outdoors Conference Opens

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s June 1-2 virtual conference will include speakers and presenters from government agencies and ORR member partners.

Yamaha Sees Double-Digit Growth in Q1

The marine segment was up 7.4 percent, driven by demand for outboards in North America and Europe but tempered by supply-chain logistics.

Orion Announces SafetyPro Training

The factory-authorized courses are designed “to educate retail associates on how to match a boater’s type of boating with the different signal kits that we offer.”

A Truce on Tariffs?

The E.U. will suspend the June 1 increase of its retaliatory tariffs and agreed to negotiate with the U.S. to end steel and aluminum tariffs.

Argos 3D Forward Looking Sonar

For 20 Years, FarSounder has been developing and manufacturing 3D forward-looking sonar for vessels of all sizes.

Dometic Marine Appoints Executives

The company promotes a 20-plus-year employee and adds a vice president of aftermarket sales and e-commerce.

IMEA Launches Scholarship Program

The International Marine Electronics Alliance aims to recruit students into the field of marine technology.

RBFF Campaign Reels in Awards

The fishing-and-boating advocacy group’s Get on Board campaign was recognized by two national public relations organizations.

Suzuki’s Clean Ocean Project

Testing of the engine manufacturer’s microplastics filtering device continues as it moves closer to production. The company also released its full-year financials.