Stranded by Debby
Tropical Storm Debby's wrath shredded docks, eroded beaches and washed several boats ashore.
John Burki's boat "Promise" ran aground during the storm and has been stuck on Gulfport Beach for more than a month, according to FOX 13 News.
Call for Help
According to the report, John Burki, known as Captain Jay, and Steve Smith are asking anyone able to help, to come out on Wednesday, at 8 a.m., and pull the boat off the beach.
Smith told FOX 13 News that they need equipment and an army of volunteers to make it work. He said the boat will have to be emptied, the keel will need to be dug out and then the boat has to sit on it's side on planks to be pulled out.
Organizers are trying to save the boat because "Promise" is Captain Jay's home. Jay told reporters that he has all the comforts of home on that boat.
Smith told FOX 13 News, "It's not going to serve anybody's purpose to cut this guy's boat up and put him on the streets."
Organizers have set up a Facebook page called "Gulfport Beach - Community Yacht Rescue" for more information.
According to the Facebook Page volunteers removed "2 tons of 'stuff' off the boat" already, in preparation for tomorrow's volunteer event.
Move it or lose it
This huge call for help coincides with the deadline the City of Gulfport has given Burki. City officials say having the boat stuck on the beach is a violation of city code. According to City Manager Jim O'Reilly Burki was given until August 1st to get the boat off the beach or have the city remove it.
Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent says Burki has received numerous violations and has 30 days from his first violation to pay the fine or request a hearing through the Pinellas County Court. Vincent says although the boat has been there for about a month, they gave Burki a warning at first and then began ticketing him about two weeks ago.
Vincent is expecting a very large turnout tomorrow and says they will have officers on hand for safety reasons.
“I want to make sure that people understand, our first concern is safety and if we see anything that is dangerous, we’re going to intervene and put a stop to it.”
“It’s not because we don’t support the cause,” Vincent said.
Vincent also says two officers will be stationed on the beach and two will be in the department's boat as part of the Marine Unit. He also says someone with either the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency will be on hand in case there are any state violations to address.
Besides safety, Vincent's main concern tomorrow is the activity in the swim zone. Officers will not allow boats inside the buoys on Gulfport Beach.
"Boats cannot be driving up and down the beach in the swim area," Vincent said.
Vincent says some of these prohibited activities could have been allowed had organizers gone to the Gulfport City Council and asked for variances.
“They would have had to ask for permission from the council to get waivers of ordinances,” he said.