By Pamela Nicholls, GSAC Board Member
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Five months after Hurricane Ian sentenced them to a watery grave, the cars swept into Moorings and Venetian Bays by the storm surge were finally retrieved by State contractors on March 7. Two automobiles from Moorings Bay and one from Venetian Bay were recovered.

That brought the total count of salvaged vehicles to five in Collier County, according to Stormwater Management Project Manager Pawel Brzeski. Two more submerged vehicles remain to be collected, one in Vanderbilt Lagoon and the other in Little Hickory Bay.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management has been coordinating the removal of Hurricane Ian waterway debris in the county since the beginning of February.

Some of the sunken cars were spotted by homeowners, others by kayakers and boaters. Divers deployed by the City to determine if cars were electric or gas-powered, recorded tags to verify ownership. The State of Florida also performed side-scanning sonar searches.

According to Brzeski, a 45-day adjudication period applies for the owners of titled property to be allowed an opportunity to recover their property. An additional 21 days were added due to the severity of the storm.

Brzeski said there is no hard data on the adverse effects of submerged vehicles over this relatively short term, but the Florida Department of Environment requested the vehicles that were sunk by Ian be periodically observed for any signs of oil leakage. None was detected Brezeski said.

According to a recent WINK News report, at least 60 vehicles in Naples and Collier County are missing and unaccounted for.