Massive waterway salvage in New Jersey

February 1, 2013 2:54:26 PM PST
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there has been so much focus on the changed landscape, and damage to houses that sit upon it. But along with the effort to fix all of that, there is a herculean effort just off the Jersey shore, cleaning up some pricey toys the storm turned into costly clutter.

The boat is one of an estimated 25,000 damaged or destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

"They range from waverunner-type personal watercraft to Hobie cats to pleasure craft like this cabin cruiser," says Dow Knight of AshBritt Disaster Recovery

AshBritt is one of the contractors the state of New Jersey has hired to salvage vessels sunk when Sandy hit. Because of wind and more sand on the bottom deposited by the storm, it's too shallow for the barge to get close enough to grab this particular boat. But there have been other successes.

"The one that's sitting on the barge right now was fully submerged," says salvage project manager Jim Rolette. "Only the antennas were showing and the divers had to go in and put the straps on and we pulled it up."

Many boats are still missing and unaccounted for. New Jersey State Police have created a database to reconnect owners with boats that are found. It could take years to find and retrieve them all. Marine surveyor Dave Christopher helps to locate missing vessels and assess the damage to them.

"We can hopefully get these boats back to their rightful owners so they can either get an insurance claim put in or remedy it however they need to remedy it," Dave Christopher, a marine surveyor on the project told Action News.

It's what's left under the water that has state officials and boaters so concerned.

"Houses, boats, cars, trucks, that's what they've been pulling out," says Phil Galioto of Toms River, New Jersey.

Untold amounts of debris from docks, yards, and just about anywhere, is now sitting at the bottom of lagoons and waterways across the shore, posing a danger to boaters and a challenge to state officials who have to clean it up before it's really safe to put boats back in the water again this summer.