Vaca Key Marina owner’s son: ‘We will rebuild’

Massive amounts of rubble are still scattered at the 1-acre marina near mile marker 47.5.
Massive amounts of rubble are still scattered at the 1-acre marina near mile marker 47.5. Keynoter

Even though the damage caused by a massive fire in Marathon Monday has been devastating to those who lived and work at the Vaca Key Marina, efforts to rebuild are underway.

The June 6 fire that tore through the 1-acre bayside marina at mile marker 47.5 destroyed three boats, a house, six forklifts and thousands of lobster traps from 2 to 5:30 a.m. Traffic in both directions was shut down for hours.

Capt. Dave Dipre with the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was at the marina Thursday assessing the number of lobster and stone-crab traps lost in the fire and said the actual number is closer to 10,000, contrary to the 20,000 originally reported lost.

On the other, unfortunate, hand, what was first thought to be $1 million in estimated damage is now closer to $2 million, said Juan Carlos Berdeal, son of property owner Carlos Berdeal of Miami.

He told the Keynoter he’s still figuring out what happens next at the site his father has owned since 1982. A dozen fishing businesses use the marina, and Juan Carlos said he’s trying to help those affected by the fire get small business loans and to get ready for the lobster season that starts Aug. 6.

When the tons of concrete and debris will be removed has yet to be determined, but after it is, “We will rebuild,” he said.

Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association Executive Director Bill Kelly said the state is waiving the replacement tag fee for each trap, which is $1 each. He’s also trying to find a way to expedite approval for disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Since it was not a natural disaster, Federal Emergency Management Agency money is not available, he said.

As far as local fundraising efforts go, two GoFundMe accounts have been set up to benefit two families. And students from Marathon High School’s upcoming senior class will be bagging groceries at Publix, mile marker 50 oceanside, today from 2 to 8 p.m. with donation buckets at each register for student Aron Prieto and his family. Volunteers can sign up by emailing michellefranck777@gmail.com.

A benefit that was originally in the process of being organized by Dawn Harris McGill of Marathon has been canceled.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219