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Into the Storm – Terry Reagan

‘My friends thought I was a little nutty’

‘My friends thought I was a little nutty’

Terry Reagan was one of the few who saw the disaster coming. He didn’t think the floating docks at the Fort Pierce City Marina would hold, so he moved his 40-foot Luhrs off the floating docks before Hurricane Frances hit.

Reagan, an Orlando, Fla., home builder, had been coming to the marina almost every weekend for two years to stay on his boat and go fishing. The boat and the marina were his home away from home, his getaway, but he never was very comfortable with the floating docks jutting out into the Indian River, vulnerable in the wide expanse of open water.

“I was here when a tropical depression came through at 3 in the morning,” he says. He didn’t like the way the docks — loaded up with big boats — strained against the pilings in 50- to 60-knot winds. “Being in construction and knowing what I know about stress, I didn’t think those docks would hold together.”

Reagan drove to the facility the night before the storm and told marina manager Dean Kubitschek, “If you don’t have a spot inside for me, I’m gone.” Some of the larger boats already had left the marina, and one slip at a fixed dock was open at the seawall in the inner harbor. That’s where he moved his boat.

“Even my friends thought I was a little nutty,” Reagan says. The docks in the inner harbor are older and fixed, and a lot of folks thought Reel Investment would get beaten to a pulp there. “I think I was the only undamaged boat in the marina.”

Surveying the damage, Reagan even sounded a bit guilty that his boat had survived. “I feel so bad,” he says. “All of A dock were my neighbors. A lot of them were residents. Their boats were their homes.” Frances swept them away with the docks.

He says he knew of at least five liveaboards who lost their homes. “Most of them are piled up over there,” he says, pointing to a heap of mangled fiberglass. “We’ve got boats all the way down to the bridge — 58-footers, 60-footers. Stuff is strung out all over here.”

Reagan took little solace in foreseeing the marina’s demise. “I didn’t want to be right,” he says. “I would rather have been wrong.”