BARNEGAT BAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Almost three months after Superstorm Sandy, dangers continue to lurk in the waters off the Jersey Shore.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the hazards are a direct result of the hurricane, which dumped everything from houses to boats into Barnegat Bay. And crews are in a race against time to clean up the mess.
A boat was seen lodged underwater in the middle of Barnegat Bay, with only its wheel pointed out.
Since Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore, Capt. Adam Vandenhouten and his crew with AshBritt Environmental have been on a mission to get the wrecked boat out.
“It can be very difficult,” Vandenhouten said. “Mud can settle on top of vessel, making it more difficult, and you get a vacuum effect.”
Diver Mike Sonta discovered that mud had indeed settled on top of the vessel, after strapping the 28-foot boat in frigid waters.
“The boat, since we’ve last been here, has sunken to the mud a little bit more,” said Jim Rolette of AshBritt Environmental. “So when we started coming up on it, the straps underneath, the hull slipped more toward the bow.”
AshBritt has pulled 33 other similar boats from New Jersey waters in the past week and a half. There are hundreds of other vessels still in the waters, and there are also parts – and entire homes – still in the bay.
One home was left underwater after Sandy tossed into Barnegat Bay from the town of Mantoloking. Such debris poses an environmental hazard, and a threat to anyone in the waters.
“It’s been difficult in spots,” Vandenhouten said. “You have a lot of areas where your depth; they’re supposed to be certain depth, and they’re not.”
The AshBritt crew, which was hired by the State of New Jersey, has to get all the boats towed by the end of the month.
“The conditions with winter coming on, they’re making it more difficult as each day passes,” Rolette said.
Pulling out the one privately owned boat took an entire day. Crews hope the winter remains mild.
As of earlier this month, state officials said there are about 1,400 vessels, 58 homes and eight cars still in Barnegat Bay. All had to be pulled out by the summer.
Crews have set a target of Memorial Day weekend to get all the debris out.
Tow Boat U.S. owner Tom Hurst has been working with the New Jersey State Police and the Coast Guard, and as of earlier this month had already pulled 400 boats out of these waters, including an 18-foot Boston Whaler.
The State of New Jersey would not tell CBS 2 the cost of towing the boats, but officials did say they are hoping to get reimbursed by funds from the federal Sandy Aid Package.
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