Shrimp boats were flung far and wide, and literally left hung out to dry near the Alabama Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley requested funding from the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund to remove stranded shrimp boats from involuntary dockings on land and return them to their rightful place at sea.
After several trips to Bayou La Batre, Ala., to survey the situation and with $1.6 million in aid from the team of former presidents, the final marooned vessel was rescued last month. More than one year after the catastrophe occurred, Riley said he was very pleased to hear the good news.
“It’s a great day and I’m glad it’s finally here,” Governor Riley said. “It could take years for some parts of our coast to fully recover from Hurricane Katrina, but this is another sign that we are moving forward.”
The first boat, the Captain Justin, was returned to water on May 23. The 80-foot boat, Rip Tide, was returned to the water Sept. 23.
Press Secretary Tara Hutchison said attempts to obtain help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were not yielding a timely response.
“There were 23 boats left on land owned by 22 families who did not have insurance,” Hutchison said. “It’s an impoverished area and the shrimpers needed to be back at work.”
Hutchison said there are still hundreds of boats left on the coasts of neighboring Mississippi and Louisiana. The governor’s office is receiving calls for guidance from both states after seeing how Alabama resolved the issue.
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