St. Marys boats

Boats washed ashore in downtown St. Marys from Hurricane Irma.

Gordon Jackson/The Brunswick News

ST. MARYS — At 91 years old, it would be easy for Calvin Lang to throw up his hands and decide not to rebuild the businesses he has operated in downtown St. Marys more than five decades.

Hurricane Irma destroyed his east and west marina docks sunk the Cumberland Queen, one of the boats used to ferry passengers to Cumberland Island National Seashore.

The storm also ripped more than half the roof from his seafood processing building where he has hundreds of pounds of shrimp in freezers he hadn’t opened Friday afternoon.

Wisely, Lang’s six other boats were safely anchored in the Satilla River in Woodbine before the storm struck Monday.

“They came through without a scratch,” he said.

Lang said he talked with his insurance adjuster in New York and was told he’d have to pay $100,000 deductible on each of the two docks destroyed by the storm.

The big question is where passengers can board the boats once the national seashore reopens again. The docks on the barrier island, which sustained severe damage 11 months ago when Hurricane Matthew battered the region, appear intact but they have to be inspected by the Army Corps of Engineers before boats will be allowed to dock there.

The damage to the docks from Matthew forced the seashore to close for nearly three weeks while repairs were made to one of the docks to enable passengers to safely board on disembark from the vessels.

Ironically, Lang said he sustained no damages during Hurricane Matthew, other than the loss of business while the docks were being repaired on Cumberland Island.

The big challenge now is trying to find a dock to board passengers in St. Marys. City officials have also expressed concerns about the impact to the tourism business that is so vital to St. Marys’ economy.

Gaila Brandon, owner of Riverview Hotel in downtown St. Marys, said the impact to business from Hurricane Matthew was “pretty bad.”

Her immediate concern is getting power restored to her business and seeing the National Park Service running again.

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