The Fort Myers Beach area was home to the largest commercial shrimping fleet in the Gulf of Mexico, but now, workers Oriel Martinez Alvarado and Javier Allan Lopez are out of a job indefinitely.
“We have family waiting on us, and we have nothing. That’s our worry,” Martinez said in Spanish.
Ahead of Ian, it was too late to evacuate. So they passed the entirety of the storm on the shrimp boats.
“There wasn’t any time to leave or move away because the highway was already congested,” Martinez said. “If we were hit while on the highway, we could have been killed, so we couldn’t leave. We were stuck there.”
During the storm, Martinez and Lopez worried that the boat they were on, the Miz Shirley, might sink. So they crossed onto the Big Daddy with two other sailors.
“The whole boat was turning round and round,” Lopez said.
The passage was dangerous. Martinez hit and injured his leg. They prayed for their safety.
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“All you could do, believing in God because it was life or death,” Martinez said.
“Nothing else left to do,” Lopez added.
In the storm’s wake, information is limited. They haven’t heard from their employer, and any news is brought from passersby.
“For now we’re thinking of staying here because they said a project is coming. So we’re hoping to get some work,” Martinez said.
They can’t leave if they wanted to, as transportation is limited.
“We want to at least work ashore ... Whatever it may be,” Lopez said. “If we can, we’re there.”
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Florida shrimpers survived Hurricane Ian on boats in Fort Myers area