Ike debris removal includes dozens of boats

August 12, 2009 5:49:21 AM PDT
Boats, toilets and telephone poles are among the items plucked from the water and muck nearly a year after Hurricane Ike hit Texas. Some sunken wrecks left behind are being cut apart for removal from Galveston Bay.

The DRC Group, based in Mobile, Ala., has a contract through Aug. 21 to clear storm debris from about 600 square miles of water and wetlands.

The company on Tuesday used a massive 150-ton device, similar to scissors, to cut apart an upside-down, 80-foot shrimp boat mired in the mud in East Galveston Bay.

The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that it was the 69th boat removed by DCR under its contract with the Texas General Land Office.

Agency inspector Tony Williams says DRC so far has removed boats and objects, ranging from refrigerators and cars to jet skis and golf carts, mired just below the water.

The Texas General Land Office has spent nearly $12 million to remove debris left behind by Ike, which stormed ashore Sept. 13. Agency spokesman Jim Suydam says most of the money has been spent cleaning up Galveston Bay, Trinity Bay and East Galveston Bay.

A company spokeswoman says DRC, as of Aug. 5, had removed 23,442 cubic yards of debris.

DRC project manager Bryce Fletcher says the mud Tuesday held the shrimp boat, the Gulf Wave, in its grip despite efforts to raise it with two cranes and pumping it with air to try to lift it.

"It didn't move an inch," Fletcher said.

Salvagers used the 330,000-pound shears to cut up the Gulf Wave and put it piece by piece into a barge, according to Fletcher.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which spent about $3.2 million to clear the Intracoastal Waterway from High Island to Port Bolivar, says side-scan radar detected no storm debris in the Houston Ship Channel.

Corps official Joe Hrametz says the job, finished within one month of Ike's arrival, turned up telephone poles, trees, and an intact bathroom from the Intracoastal Waterway.

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