Superstorm Sandy debris threaten tourism

2013-02-18 14:01
The Inlet section of Atlantic City, New Jersey, as Hurricane Sandy makes it approach. (File/ AP)

The Inlet section of Atlantic City, New Jersey, as Hurricane Sandy makes it approach. (File/ AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Mantoloking - On the surface, things look calm and placid. Just beneath the waterline, however, it's a different story.

Cars and sunken boats. Patio furniture. Pieces of docks. Entire houses. A grandfather clock, deposited in a marsh a mile from solid land. Hot tubs. Tons of sand. All displaced by Superstorm Sandy.

"We did a cleanup three weeks ago. Then when we went back the other day, you could still see junk coming up in the wash," said Paul Harris, president of the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, which helps take care of beaches on which the group goes surf fishing.

"They go and clean it again, and two days later, you have the same thing again. There's nothing you can do about it; you can't vacuum the ocean."

Coastal areas of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are racing to remove untold tons of debris from waters hardest hit by the October 29 storm before the summer swimming and boating seasons begin - two of the main reasons people flock there each year and the underpinning of the region's multibillion-dollar tourist industry.

Cleanup won't be easy, fast or, cheap

The sunken debris presents an urgent safety issue. Swimmers could cut themselves on submerged junk, step on one of thousands of boardwalk nails ripped loose, or suffer neck or spinal injuries diving into solid objects.

Boats could hit debris, pitching their occupants overboard, or in severe cases, sinking.
The cleanup won't be easy, fast or cheap.

"The amount of debris that needs to be removed is mind-boggling," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said, ticking off the statistics in his state: 1 400 vessels sunk, broken loose or destroyed during the storm.

In just one shore town alone, Mantoloking, 58 buildings were washed into Barnegat Bay, along with eight vehicles, and a staggering amount of sand carried from the ocean beaches into the bay.

"Everything you can imagine is sitting in our waterways," he said.

Boats will 'start hitting stuff'


Barnegat Bay is likely to have some no-go zones in place for at least part of the spring and summer as cleanup work progresses.

"Big Al" Wutkowski, a locally famous striped-bass fisherman who volunteers as the Barnegat Bay Guardian for the American Littoral Society environmental group, is worried about what still lurks beneath the waves.

"When people start putting their boats back in the water in April, I know they're going to start hitting stuff," he said. "It's impossible not to hit stuff. It's also a lot shallower in places now. A lot of the lagoons are filled in with sand. People can't get their boats in or out."

Florida-based contractor AshBritt Environmental removed 42 boats from New Jersey waterways in recent weeks. Others were corralled by the State Police, or by private salvage companies acting on behalf of owners.

Property owners are not being held financially responsible for debris that washed or blew off their property into waterways unless they hire a private company to retrieve a boat they plan to repair and keep, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

$60bn Sandy relief

The state, which issued contracts last week for the water cleanup work, plans to seek full reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of $60bn in Sandy relief approved by Congress.

Much of the work will involve cranes atop barges that pluck the largest debris from the bottom. Divers could be used for smaller pieces. Once that's done, many waterways will need to be dredged, with the sand placed back on beaches.

The private owners of an amusement pier that collapsed in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, pitching the Jet Star roller coaster into the ocean, are working with insurers to devise a plan to dismantle the ride and get it out of the ocean.

Seaside Heights also plans to send teams of divers to scour the ocean bottom in popular swimming areas before letting people back into the water, fearing parts of the wooden pier, metal pieces from boardwalk rides and other debris still linger in the ocean.

Cars from the pier's amusement rides were found on beaches as far as 13km away in the days after the storm.

The Polar Bear Plunge, in which swimmers briefly dash into and out of the frigid surf to raise money for charity, was moved this year from Seaside Heights to Long Branch, a beach 39 km to the north where hidden debris wasn't a concern.

New York and Connecticut face similar problems.

"We have everything from floating oil barrels, gasoline tanks, household hazardous waste products, buckets, tires, bathtubs, you name it," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment on Long Island.

"We're concerned not only about pollution, but boater safety," she said. "Come the spring, this stuff is going to be submerged partially or totally, but the boats are going to have some very serious issues."

370 tons of debris

Rob Weltner, president of Operation Splash, said the Freeport, New York, volunteer group has spent the past 20 years collecting 450 000kg of debris, mostly from waterways on the south shore of Long Island.

"Twenty years is out the window," he said. "Gone, gone. Sandy hit us right at the time when we would normally be putting the finishing touches on our cleanups. Every place I look I go, 'Oh, my God, not again, man. We just had that place looking beautiful and it's going to take us another 10 or 15 years to get it back looking decent again."

Among the items found by the group since Sandy are hot tubs, floating docks, damaged boats, barbecue grills, patio furniture, umbrellas, hundreds of trash cans and the grandfather clock.

Crews in Hempstead, New York, have removed 379 tons of debris from waterways since Sandy hit. Neighbouring Babylon has retrieved 50 tons, including two tool sheds fully intact, with tools still inside, and 24 destroyed boats.

Fairfield, Connecticut, needs to remove debris left in marshlands by the storm, including bicycles, picnic tables and backyard furniture, said First Selectman Michael Tetreau.

'Big economic impact'

The town is waiting to use special equipment from the state to remove the debris without harming the marshes.

Fairfield also saw significant beach erosion and needs to dredge its harbour and marina because sand was pushed into the waterways. Tetreau doubts the work will be done before Memorial Day at the end of May, and said there may be limits on boat traffic.

In Brick, New Jersey, the lagoon on which Mayor Stephan Acropolis lives is filled with junk, including the front door and part of a wall from one of three houses that burned during the storm. Also in the lagoon are a kids' picnic table, a 190L plastic barrel holding who-knows-what, and two docks from homes two blocks away.

Acropolis is counting on the state to quickly remove the marine debris to prevent even deeper economic losses from the storm.

"Someone goes out crabbing; they buy gas for the boat, maybe they have to rent the boat in the first place. They buy bait, they buy lunch," Acropolis said.

"It's a big economic impact. People live here because they want to be on the water, out on a boat. If we don't get this cleaned up, we're going to have a problem."

- SAPA
Read more on:    us  |  us superstorm  |  natural disasters
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding

Learn some great skills that will help your riding on the road and on the track.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips on how to set your fitness goals
This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.