Hurricane cleanup continues in local waterways as new hurricane season arrives

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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Not many in Orange Beach will soon forget the damage caused during last year’s hurricane season.

Eight months after Hurricane Sally, recovery continues. A lot of it on the water and under it. It’s all part of the job of the Waterways and Shoreline Enhancement program. The city one of the few coastal communities that actually put the time and energy into making sure the waterways and shorelines are monitored and cleaned on a daily basis.

“They’re looking for anything from litter to marine debris,” says Wade Stevens with the city’s Coastal Resources department. “That can be as large as portions of a vessel to little wrappers off of candy or straws or whatever it may be.”

Mainly small items have been found now, but that hasn’t always been the case, especially after the tropical onslaught of 2020. “We find everything. We find shopping carts, bowling balls, parachutes. you name it. That is just some examples of what we pull off the bottom out there.”

Along the shoreline, almost everywhere you look are skeletons of what once was before Sally. Ninety percent or more of marine structures were damaged or destroyed. A lot of that debris was pulled from the waters of Terry Cove and Cotton Bayou. More is still down there, according to Stevens. “Anytime you have the amount of damage we had in Sally or a storm like that, you’re always going to have quite a bit of submerged marine debris or submerged structure of some type whether that is a vessel or portions of a pier.”

The bigger targets that are still in the water are too deep to get to for now, but a new barge and crane will be in operation soon. In the meantime, boaters and swimmers should be aware of what’s on the water and what could still be beneath the surface.

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