September 2017 was a month dominated by tropical weather; both at home and that which affected our neighbors across the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the Caribbean. But, while tragedies break our hearts, they also afford us the opportunity to grow closer together as a community.

As Hurricane Harvey devastated South Texas and Western Louisiana, we learned that several CFCW members had put their charter businesses on hold, packed up their boats and headed to Texas to help with the rescue efforts in heavily flooded areas. We were inspired by their selfless effort and decided that we, as an organization and as concerned individuals, needed to assist. After reaching out to Captains Jamie Hough and T.J. Cheek who were already in Texas, we decided that making a trip to bring supplies to a shelter would be the most impactful way for us to help.

Through the Flats Invitational Tournament in Fort Myers (Sept. 1-2), we organized a supply donation drive, which yielded an amazing outpouring of compassionate generosity. We initially rented a 26-foot box truck to transport the donated provisions to Texas, but the community gave so abundantly, we had to rent an additional trailer which we also filled.

Captains Chris Wittman, Daniel Andrews, Josh Greer & Ethan Hanson drove the supplies to Texas, communicated with The Cajun Navy and were dispatched to First Assembly church in Bridge City, TX. The shelter was in desperate need of supplies when we arrived.

We returned from Texas just 2 days before Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys and then again in Southwest Florida on September 10. This was the most devastating storm Florida has experienced in many years.

Immediately following the storm, we were able to coordinate delivery of two 53-foot semi-trucks filled with supplies from B&B Trucking in Michigan. This first round of supplies went to Fort Myers for local distribution.

Our friends at Orvis sent us 39 boxes of wader they collected which we redistributed to First Responders at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Estero Fire Department.

Thanks to our friends at The Florida House, supplies continued to pour in, and we made a final trip to Big Pine Key with the remaining supplies.

CFCW thanks its partners and members for their exemplary efforts to help hurricane victims at home and across the Gulf. Many fishing guides in some of the hardest hit areas are now open for business due to the outpouring of support from all over the country.

We must never underestimate the power and potentially destructive force of a hurricane; nor can we ever under-appreciate the immense importance of a healthy Everglades. From knocking down storm surge to storing flood water, this amazing region of historic wetlands is Florida’s first line of defense against hurricanes. We all know the importance of Everglades restoration and this hurricane season is bearing us a stark reminder. Restoring the flow of clean freshwater through the Everglades will minimize the discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers after periods of heavy rain, and provide Floridians with a water management system that protects our estuaries.

We are fortunate to be back in the office now, working hard to hold the government accountable to the promises they made to us by passing Florida Senate Bill 10, which authorized and funded the state’s portion of the EAA Reservoir. Over the next year, we will be working hard to get federal funding needed for the EAA Reservoir. It is critical that we expand our membership as we ask Washington DC to fund their share of the EAA Reservoir. Invite your friends to join Captains for Clean Water, and thank you for your continued support!