The 2017 hurricane season inflicted severe damage to communities and coastal resources over large areas of the Caribbean, Southeast and Texas, leaving a swath of destruction and large amounts of debris in the coastal zone of the affected states and territories. This debris poses hazards to navigation, commercial fishing grounds, and sensitive ecosystems.
With financial support from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, coastal states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria received $17.2M in disaster relief funding to assess, remove, and dispose of hurricane related marine debris.
While FEMA and other agencies removed a great deal of marine debris during immediate emergency response operations, there are still large amounts of debris remaining.
Following the disaster, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program worked with the states and territories to determine additional marine debris removal needs. The funding will support post-storm surveys and mapping of marine debris accumulation hot spots, and the removal and disposal of vessels, derelict fishing gear and traps, damaged piers, pilings and other large-scale debris.
Cleanup of the debris will benefit sensitive habitats such as near-shore reefs, mangroves and protected areas such as National Estuarine Research Reserves in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
NOAA provided noncompetitive grants to Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.