Federal grant to help Orange Beach remove storm-related marine debris

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 7:16 PM CST
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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) - Orange Beach is one of just a handful of coastal cities receiving a grant to help pay for storm debris cleanup from the 2020 and 2021 storm seasons.  With the money, Orange Beach will be able to remove debris from waterways they haven’t yet been able to get to.

Orange Beach Coastal Resources (OBCR) has more than 50 miles of shoreline to monitor and keep clean.  It’s an ongoing challenge but money provided by NOAA and awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will help recover debris not covered by FEMA money after Hurricane Sally.

Orange Beach Coastal Resources staff sort pilings removed from area waterways.
Orange Beach Coastal Resources staff sort pilings removed from area waterways.(Hal Scheurich)

“Anything over seven feet deep, we couldn’t get with any FEMA funding or we couldn’t get the equipment,” explained OBCR director, Phillip West.  “We didn’t have the right equipment for it, so we know that there’s a lot of Sally-generated debris out there…vessels, pilings, pieced of docks…piers.  You name it.”

A thorough survey of the waterways was done after Hurricane Sally and West said they already have several target areas to hit first.

“There’s a vessel out here in Terry Cove that’s in about twenty feet of water.  There’s a couple hundred feet of handrail from the fishing park at Perdido Pass that’s in, you know, close to twenty feet of water.  Ingram Bayou has several vessels sunk,” West said.

The $368,000 awarded through the grant will fund labor and equipment rentals to get those items removed.  While those plans are being made, OBCR will continue to work daily to monitor shorelines and keep waterways clear.

“A lot of marine debris is generated on land and it’s transported by stormwater or…litterbugs to the marine environment and you know, they…before we’d gotten the big equipment that we could handle the bigger stuff, just normal stuff, they’d pick up eighty to a hundred thousand pounds a year,” said West.

Parts of Louisiana and Mississippi also received money from this grant for storm debris removal as did Mobile, which received $463,000.


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