Sandy debris removal continues in NJ waterways

March 15, 2013 1:29:46 PM PDT
Spring is around the corner but some Jersey Shore communities are still dragging the debris from Hurricane Sandy out of their waterways.

For the last two weeks, debris removal crews worked from barges in the Barnegat Bay, pulling out 2000 cubic yards of trees, timber, boats and other items that Sandy left sitting on the bottom of the bay.

"They want to get the cars out, they want to get whatever debris they can. There were 60 homes that washed away completely and I'm sure all that debris is out here somewhere and we got to get it out," said Chief Mark Wright, Mantoloking Police Department.

Crews did their work removing these dangerous navigation hazards. The debris has been mapped out in a grid system using side scan sonar operated by Vineland native Jeff Snyder.

"It's all charted out with latitude and longitude coordinates, that way the debris crews can go back and reacquire the targets and then they can remove them," said Snyder, Hydrographic Surveyor.

Debris is marked with a yellow buoy. One man steers the barge while another operates a claw that plucks the junk out of the water.

"The barge will come feel around with their knuckle boom and try to bump it, feel it and grab it, pick it up and see what they've got," said Buddy Young, CrowderGulf Operations Director.

Thirteen cars have been located underwater by sonar, so far three have been pulled up. Smaller boats are also bringing in loads of floating debris.

Everything is trucked to a landfill with FEMA paying 75 percent of the removal cost and the rest paid for by the state.

Some of the debris is small compared to a house washed right off its foundation and swept into the middle of the bay

"Problem we got here is this is pretty shallow water. To bring a barge in with track hoe on it and get it close enough to that house to work may be a challenge," said Young.

The state hopes to have most of the debris removal completed by the beginning of June before the busy recreational boating season. It remains to be seen yet if that will happen in Mantoloking.