Amos Andreassen, 6, hands a piece of debris to his grandmother, Peggy Tutu, on a beach in North Douglas during a community cleanup Sunday following last weekend’s record flooding of the Mendenhall River. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Amos Andreassen, 6, hands a piece of debris to his grandmother, Peggy Tutu, on a beach in North Douglas during a community cleanup Sunday following last weekend’s record flooding of the Mendenhall River. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Cleaning up the flood’s remaining bits and big pieces

Participants in community cleanup walk the shores where items washed up a week after the disaster

Chanda Lawless and her two companions on a North Douglas beach found a pair of jeans, some diapers and what appeared to be a section of roofing that had washed away during last weekend’s record flooding from Suicide Basin. But she didn’t find something she was hoping wouldn’t get tossed into their large yellow trash bags.

“I was hoping to find photographs,” she said Sunday afternoon near the North Douglas Launch Ramp, where Hal Kulm and the couple’s son, Luke Kulm, were bringing debris and trash bags up to the side of North Douglas Highway to be picked up by city work crews.

She said she’s seen photos among the items belonging to flood victims that people have been trying to return since the flood last Saturday, which destroyed or resulted in the condemnation of nearly 2o residences along the Mendenhall River a week ago Saturday.

[Flood cleanup, fundraising events planned this weekend]

The trio was among the scores of people who walked the shores of North Douglas, and many others along other coastlines reached by outflow of the Mendenhall River, during the community cleanup organized by the City and Borough of Juneau and Litter Free Inc.

Patrick Cashman (left) and Logan Ginter (right), both maintenance workers for the city’s parks and recreation department, hand yellow trash bags to Isabelle Geddes (white jacket) and Andrea Dewees at False Outer Point during a community shoreline cleanup Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Patrick Cashman (left) and Logan Ginter (right), both maintenance workers for the city’s parks and recreation department, hand yellow trash bags to Isabelle Geddes (white jacket) and Andrea Dewees at False Outer Point during a community shoreline cleanup Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Large-scale cleanups of items such as oil tanks and trees by agencies such as the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation have occurred since the waters receded last Sunday, along with a multitude of residents doing smaller cleanups and searching for items to return to their original owners. But people participating in Sunday’s cleanup said it was a chance to clear beaches of smaller fragments of hazardous items such as insulation and plastics, as well as the more obviously visible pieces.

“I was out here and I couldn’t help myself,” said Peggy Tutu, who joined the cleanup while on an outing with her grandson, Amos Andreassen, 6. “We haven’t really found that much garbage from the debris and the flood, but you never know. There’s always garbage to pick up.”

In addition to picking up wiring, bits of lumber and random items like a whiffle ball, the pair also removed nails from a fire pit apparently left behind after pallets were burned.

While the city instructed participants to leave collection bags along certain roads for pickup, and to contact the official flood response email contact (floodresponse@juneau.gov) for removal of items too large to bring to the road, there were no specific plans for items that could potentially be returned to owners. People taking part in the cleanup said they would take the same actions others have during the past week, such as posting photos of the items at community social media sites.

“I would probably bring it to my former student here, said Andrea Dewees, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Southeast, referring to Patrick Cashman, one of two city parks and recreation maintenance workers passing out trash bags to participants at the False Outer Point Wayside.

Dewees said she was participating in the cleanup out of an interest to see where items from the flood washed up and a concern about diesel fuel contamination in the affected area.

“Juneau doesn’t seem to have a very robust plan for diesel response,” she said.

Hal Kulm (left), Luke Kulm (center) and Chanda Lawless place trash and lumber debris by the side of North Douglas Highway during a community shoreline cleanup Sunday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Hal Kulm (left), Luke Kulm (center) and Chanda Lawless place trash and lumber debris by the side of North Douglas Highway during a community shoreline cleanup Sunday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The DEC, with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard, has been monitoring the area for hazardous items such as fuel tanks and signs of fuel on water surfaces, but officials with both agencies said earlier this week it appears no major contamination has occurred.

Sunday’s cleanup is being followed on Monday by the first free collection by the city of household debris from flood-impacted residents.

“This will be the first of several debris collections related to this event,” an announcement posted by the city Friday stated, adding that if residents in the affected areas have not been contacted by Sunday evening they can contact the city’s floodresponse@juneau.gov email.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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