Ortega marina getting back to normal post-Irma

Ortega marina getting back to normal post-Irma
A barge is nestled up to the docks at the Ortega River Marina while crews repair damage to the docks from Hurricane Irma.

While it may seem like eight months is a long time to wait for hurricane-related repairs, Paul Howe, Ortega River Marina harbormaster, said he was lucky to be first in line.

Bellingham Marine, a Jacksonville-based dock design, manufacturer and construction company had been at the Lakeside marina making repairs related to the 2016 Hurricane Matthew when Irma struck in September 2017. “I had their number on my cellphone and called in the middle of the hurricane,” said Howe, putting the him first on the list for Irma-related marina repairs.

The marina, built in 1984, has three docks with 99 slips. The floating docks typically rise and fall with the tides, so the resulting surge took the docks above the pilings. Howe said they lost the end of C Dock and broke some rods on the other two when the water level fell quickly. He said he noticed a lot of debris heading toward the docks about two hours before high tide and began pushing it away from the rollers on the pilings, but couldn’t get it all by the time he made it to C Dock.

Howe estimated the repairs would take about four to five weeks, but declined to share the cost of the project. He said out of the 112 boats which rode out the hurricane at the marina, only seven sustained damage of which just one had a puncture, but it was well above the water line.

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