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Cleaning Up Katrina Debris

POSTED: Monday, March 23, 2009 - 6:03pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:58pm

It’s a problem on the waterways for parishes like Livingston, dangerous debris spelling trouble for boaters. Our Lauren Unger has more on the race against the clock to clean up lakes and rivers.

For Royce Solar it’s time to break the fishing boat out of its winter hibernation. But there’s company on the waterways, debris from downed trees and abandoned houseboats, mostly left over from Hurricane Katrina. “The old piers, boatrods, houses are just falling in, they really need to be cleaned up.”

This man tests boats on the river. He knows the danger of a hidden tree stump or branch. “Usually puts you to a stop so you can figure out what’s going on. If you tear something up, you’ll be paddling back in, you know.” So Livingston Parish is hoping to clean up its rivers, all 460 miles of water. “This is the first major cleanup we’ve done in history.”

They’re getting help from the coast guard, using gps and sonar technology to locate the debris. Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer says, “They’ll actually pick the material up, whatever it is, trees, old boats, whatever it is. Put it on the barge, bring it to the land, and actually go all the way to the landfill with it.”

But for the parish, it’s a bit of a race against the clock. They’re hoping to get the area cleaned up before the boats hit the water. For those who use the water, it’s a matter of safety. It’s a clearer path for those who turn to the water for fun. Parish officials still don’t know how much the cleanup could cost. They’ve already identified 3,000 cleanup sites in the Tickfaw River alone. Luckily, the federal government has committed to pickup the tab.