Massive Bay Clean-up After Ike is Finally Complete

The massive operation to clean up the Galveston-area bay system after Hurricane Ike is officially over. It was the largest beach and bay debris removal effort the state has ever faced, and officials say the job came in on time, and under budget. David Pitman reports.

The Texas General Land Office sifted through more than a million cubic yards of sand along the beaches Hurricane Ike tore into a year ago.  Crews removed enough debris to fill more than 13,000 dump trucks. 

Another 3,000 trucks worth of garbage came out of the bay system — with items ranging from pieces of furniture to boats and even ambulances.

Jim Suydam is a spokesman for the General Land Office.  He says Texas officials took a different approach to the Ike cleanup, compared to the recovery from Katrina and Rita, when Louisiana used giant nets to dredge its waterways.

"What we did is we individually targeted pieces of debris with sonar data.  And then went down there with scoops and buckets and picked it up and sometimes cut up the ships in place.  And so ours was a more targeted removal effort."

Suydam says that approach also resulted less damage to the bays' eco-systems.   Suydam says one lesson learned from the Ike cleanup is how the General Land Office needs the ability to start lining up contractors to handle debris removal "before" another big storm hits.

"So we have contracts ready to flip on, basically, and go do the job.  It took months after the storm to identify funding and to get contracts in line to start the cleanup, actually."

State lawmakers earlier this year approved a rule change that will allow the Land Office to give out contracts and position crews ahead of a storm, so there won't be any cleanup delays in the future.

David Pitman, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.


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David Pitman

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