Community helping Palmetto Bay Marina houseboat owners recover after Matthew

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Palmetto Bay Marina was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew.

These boats were actually places people called home. But after living in tents for the past few weeks, the community is now coming together to literally dig these boats out of the mud.

"I came home and found my boat sitting in the marsh like all these other boats," said Matthew Lietner, whose houseboat was damaged by the hurricane.

Boats that were tied to the docks before the storm, after most of them on their side in the marsh damaged.

"I had tears welled up. You can look at the pictures all you want but until you see it in person and you see these boats stacked up to each other. It's beyond the grasp of what your imagination can actually fathom," said Crystal Browning, another houseboat owner who suffered damaged by Matthew.

"It's actually going to cost us a lot of money to have a tugboat and a crane come to be able to pull the boats out. We estimated about $7,000 a boat," said Lietner.

A price tag too steep for most of the residents. So they've resorted to other resources: the community.

"It floats at high tide, it's buoyant. But it's still on its side and the keel is still in the mud, so we're digging so it's not in the mud anymore and we're taking floats from the dock and strapping them on to keep it on its side," said Lietner.

"We're trying to make a sled to pull her over and she can slide on out without any damage to the marsh or anything. That's the goal. This is the 4th day now in this moon cycle," said Tracy Myers, who is helping a friend dig out their houseboat.

That's where the community comes in, several men picked up shovels and got to work in the stinky, thick mud. A small price to pay for helping neighbors.

"Karma. What goes around comes around. We're all exhausted, but it's pretty cool. It's a little overwhelming all of the positive energy," said Myers.

The next step is waiting for a crane approval to come and help remove these boats. In the meantime, they have started a GoFundMe account to cover the costs of removing the boats wedged between the docks like the one you see here.

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