‘‘We’re concerned not only about pollution, but boater safety,’’ she said. ‘‘Come the spring, this stuff is going to be submerged partially or totally, but the boats are going to have some very serious issues.’’
Rob Weltner, president of Operation Splash, said the Freeport, N.Y., volunteer group has spent the past 20 years collecting 1 million pounds of debris, mostly from waterways on the south shore of Long Island.
‘‘Twenty years is out the window,’’ he said. ‘‘Gone, gone. Sandy hit us right at the time when we would normally be putting the finishing touches on our cleanups. Every place I look I go, ‘Oh, my God, not again, man. We just had that place looking beautiful and it’s going to take us another 10 or 15 years to get it back looking decent again.’’
Among the items found by the group since Sandy are hot tubs, floating docks, damaged boats, barbecue grills, patio furniture, umbrellas, hundreds of trash cans and the grandfather clock.
Crews in Hempstead, N.Y., have removed 379 tons of debris from waterways since Sandy hit. Neighboring Babylon has retrieved 50 tons, including two tool sheds fully intact, with tools still inside, and 24 destroyed boats.
Fairfield, Conn., needs to remove debris left in marshlands by the storm, including bicycles, picnic tables and backyard furniture, said First Selectman Michael Tetreau. The town is waiting to use special equipment from the state to remove the debris without harming the marshes.
Fairfield also saw significant beach erosion and needs to dredge its harbor and marina because sand was pushed into the waterways. Tetreau doubts the work will be done before Memorial Day, and said there may be limits on boat traffic.
In Brick, N.J., the lagoon on which Mayor Stephan Acropolis lives is filled with junk, including the front door and part of a wall from one of three houses that burned during the storm. Also in the lagoon are a kids’ picnic table, a 50-gallon plastic barrel holding who-knows-what, and two docks from homes two blocks away.
Acropolis is counting on the state to quickly remove the marine debris to prevent even deeper economic losses from the storm.
‘‘Someone goes out crabbing; they buy gas for the boat, maybe they have to rent the boat in the first place. They buy bait, they buy lunch,’’ Acropolis said. ‘‘It’s a big economic impact. People live here because they want to be on the water, out on a boat. If we don’t get this cleaned up, we’re going to have a problem.’’
Associated Press writers Frank Eltman in Freeport, N.Y., and John Christoffersen in Fairfield, Conn., contributed to this report.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC