OCEAN CITY — Beachgoers should be wary of debris left over from Hurricane Sandy that will steadily appear from underneath sand and wash up in the surf this summer, city officials say.
Asphalt, wood, plastic, wires and other materials that were embedded in sand immediately after the storm have been turning up in the city, Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said at Thursday night’s City Council meeting, and will continue to do so as wind, water and foot traffic erodes the sand.
Much of that debris was left in sand pushed by machines off city streets and back onto beaches in the days and weeks after the storm in many coastal communities. There is also hundreds of miles of dune fencing that was washed away and may still be out to sea, making it a potential statewide issue.
Dattilo said sand scraped off streets was sorted as best workers could in the aftermath of the emergency, but they could not have found it all. In the southern end of the island, the cleanest sand was used for walking and bathing areas, while potentially littered sand was used to create a berm to protect properties in that area.
For that reason, the city is asking people not to walk on the berms in the south end and only cross at designated walkways. The city has been working to remove whatever becomes exposed.
“We’re going to be as diligent as ever to make sure there are no materials on the beach that will cause any problems,” Dattilo said.
This may be less of a problem in the north end of Ocean City because of the on-going beach replenishment project there. That sand is pumped from an offshore site and is screened on its way to the beach, and may cover up any materials left from the storm.
Sand is being trucked in to the south end to help build up beaches there. Some residents apparently have thought that mined sand included the debris, but Dattilo said that is not true. He said some clay was included in the sand and appeared to look like concrete, but it will look more natural as it mixes with native beach sand and is bleached by the sun.
Councilman Pete Guinosso said he has heard such concerns from people in that area.
“It’s still unsettling when you see asphalt sitting up on a berm,” he said.
Dattilo agreed. In addition to city workers removing debris that turns up, he said, locals have helped by alerting the city of debris they find. He also said they would put up dune fence to keep people off the berms.
On top of all that, he said, beachgoers should be vigilant through this first summer after the storm.
Both of the beach replenishment projects in Ocean City should be finished by mid-June, at the latest.
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