$260M of federal relief money proposed to help revive Florida’s struggling seaports

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to use $260 million of the state’s federal relief money to help revive Florida’s struggling seaports.

Last Saturday marked one year since the CDC issued its no-sail order, which ended about seven months later.

The agency then issued rules that cruise lines need to follow to get back up and running.

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One requirement is running simulated trips, which hasn’t happened yet.

The proposed relief for Port Canaveral is just the first step to recovery.

Port officials in Brevard County said they estimate Port Canaveral’s possible share would cover the deep losses from a year of idle ships.

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It’s a level of support for which Port CEO Capt. John Murray expressed his gratitude this week, saying the port is committed “to reviving the economic prosperity delivered for decades.”

However, Murray said the complete steps to recovery are still unknown, because once sailing fully resumes, the business as they knew it may not look the same.

“A lot of people who were committed to the cruise industry and made a livelihood out of it (have) maybe moved onto something else now, so it could be a different world when we get started again,” he said.

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Still, there’s optimism. Longshoremen like Paul Kellem haven’t worked in a year.

“We’re resilient, this port is resilient … and we’re going to be better than we were before,” Kellem said.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.