Seafood Industry in the Southwest Florida is fighting against time and the elements to save what’s left of a large shrimp fleet – and a way of life – that has been wiped out Hurricane Jan.

The storm’s fierce winds and powerful surge tossed a couple of dozen shrimp boats onto docks and homes along the harbor on Estera Island. Jesse Clapham, who oversees a dozen trawlers for a major seafood company in Fort Myers Beach, tries to get the boats back to sea as quickly as possible — before their engines, winches and pulleys jam as they leave the water.

One of the two shrimp that didn’t drown or wash ashore took off on Sunday, but the victory was small compared to the task ahead.

“We employ 300 people, and all of them are out of work right now. I’m sure they’d rather just cut it all down and build a giant condo here, but we’re not going to give up,” said Clapham, who operates the Erickson and Jensen Seafood fleet, which he says handles $10 million worth of shrimp annually .

The company’s destroyed docks, flooded office and processing plant are located on Main Street, next to another large seafood company, Trico Shrimp Co. There, a crane picked up the Aces & Eights shrimp outriggers that had sunk to the ground, the first step in returning them to the water. On the other side of the yard sat side by side in the parking lot the huge Caden Nicole and Renee Lynn, stern in their bows.

Shrimp is the largest part of Florida’s seafood industry, worth nearly $52 million in 2016, state statistics show. Gulf of Mexico shrimp from Fort Myers were shipped all over the world United States for generations.

The question now is when fishing might resume and if there will be experienced crews left to man the boats when it does.

Typist Michelle Bryant didn’t just lose her job when the boat she was working on ran aground, she lost her home. Shrimp crews are at sea for two months at a time, she said, so members often don’t have homes on land.

“I have nowhere to stay,” she said. “I live in a tent.”

Richard Brown’s situation is just as dangerous. Citizen of Guyana who was working on a boat out of Miami when Ian hit southwest Florida, Brown rode out into the storm in one of four boats that were tied together along the harbor’s seawall.

“We tried to fight the storm. The lines were breaking. We kept replacing them, but when the wind turned, everyone was on land,” he said.

There’s no way to catch shrimp on a boat surrounded by mud, so Brown stays busy scraping the debris off the Gulf Star’s hull. “It’s like dry dock,” he said, but he’s no more sure what to do now than he was at the height of the storm.

“It was horrible – the worst experience,” said Brown, who is more than 2,160 miles (3,480 kilometers) from his home in South America. “I just thought, ‘You can abandon ship.’ But where are you going?”

Seafood fleets along the Gulf Coast are used to being destroyed by hurricanes. In 2005, Katrina devastated the industry from Louisiana to Alabama, and seafood in southern Louisiana is still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Ida. But this part of Florida hasn’t seen a storm like Ian in a century, leaving people wondering what’s next.

Dale Kaljanen and his brother followed their father into the shrimp business and own the trawler Night Wind, which is docked at the mobile home park near the bridge. He said high fuel prices and cheap imported seafood took a bite out of the industry long before Yang did its worst.

“There used to be 300 boats in this harbor, but now there are maybe 50,” he said. “It’s probably going to be years before this business even comes close to what it was.”

Clapham, a 47-year-old fleet manager, has spent his life on shrimp boats. The industry is already running on tight margins and needs help recovering from Jan, he said.

“These boats go out and catch $60,000, $70,000 worth of shrimp a month, but the fuel for them and the food and supplies cost $30,000 to $50,000 and then you have to pay the crew. And sometimes these boats (catch) don’t even pay for everything,” he said. “We take money from one boat, launch another and send them fishing to keep going.”