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Local beaches littered w/ debris after storms

January 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Back-to-back winter storms left a big mess along the Southern California coast. Last week's heavy rainstorms overflowed rivers and storm drains, sending garbage into the ocean.With piles of trash littering local beaches, crews are working feverously to clean it up before the next round of rain hits.

Bulldozers and backhoes shoveled muck and trash that was swept down to the sea through flood control channels.

Over the weekend, some coastal residents did their part to pick up trash from the beach. Some residents were sorting recyclables from the rest of the garbage, hoping to make the cleanup easier.

"It's totally amazing to me. It's like the ocean spit back at us what we've been throwing into it," said Seal Beach resident Kim Frassett. "I've been seeing a lot of grocery carts, and wood -- like huge pieces of wood maybe from Oregon or Washington -- a lot of trash and broken glass."

The recent heavy rains pushed garbage down storm drains, including car tires, shopping carts, clothes, old shoes and broken bottles. The debris traveled along the 75-mile long San Gabriel River, spilling out into the ocean off Seal Beach.

"I was just amazed by how much was coming up that could have been recycled," said Wyoming resident Vandi Mitchell. "Plastic bottles, toys, those little suckers that are at the checkout stands, all of that is washing up."

City crews started work in Seal Beach Monday, but with only a couple of employees it means the cleanup won't likely be done when the next storm arrives Tuesday. One city worker told Eyewitness News it will likely be the middle of the week before they get all of the garbage off the beach.

Health officials warn people to stay out of the water for 72 hours after a storm because of higher bacteria levels.

"I usually surf here every day but I was kind of afraid to get into the water," said Frassett. "I see some of my friends out there and I'm hoping they've had their shots."

Members of the group saveourbeach.org said they don't think there was as much trash this time as previous major storms because of early preparations. More than 1,400 volunteers helped fill up 12 trash bins on the beach before last week's storms hit.

"It's a very good feeling to be able to clean up the area," said Kim Masoner from saveourbeach.org. "There is hope. We see this storm, compared to like El Nino, has a lot less plastic bottles and aluminum cans. And we attribute that to people who are doing more or want to do more for the environment."

The group plans to resume the cleanup in Seal Beach Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Anyone who would like to join the cleanup should meet volunteers near the River's End Café.