The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resource Division received two grants totaling $1.25 million to clean up nearly 20,000 tons of derelict vessels, sections of docks and other debris that was dislodged during hurricanes Irma (2017) and Matthew (2016).
The funding included $650,000 from the governor’s office in the summer of 2018 and $600,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration later that year. The state contracted with Zulu Marine of Savannah to clear waterways.
“Immediately following Hurricane Matthew, we have a drone team — a UAV team,” Buck Bennett, the CRD’s compliance and enforcement manager, told the Brunswick News. “We started documenting the docks, the destruction up on the Wilmington River, wherever we could find it. And we started taking pictures of it and trying to find an estimate of what we believed was there in case the federal government … maybe had some money that we could use to remove the material.”
The division followed the same pattern after Irma, documenting debris and its location. “St. Marys, the waterfront was pretty devastated, and so were down there hours, if not a day, after the hurricane cleared, documenting the sunken and derelict vessels and that type of thing,” Bennett said. “And the two marinas that were down in St. Marys were absolutely obliterated. All that debris ended up in the water, along with some sunken vessels and routine marine debris.”
In McIntosh County, Zulu crews removed 2,300 cubic yards of debris. In Glynn county, a 34-foot cruiser that had been blown into the marsh had to be towed to shore and dismantled. Near Cannon’s Point, a dock gangway came loose and floated into the marsh.