Hempstead warns of boater hazards from Sandy debris

A boat is beached on South Ocean Avenue A boat is beached on South Ocean Avenue in Freeport. (Oct. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Hempstead Town is asking boaters to exercise caution as they return to local bays and waterways, as waters remain littered with potentially dangerous debris from superstorm Sandy, town Supervisor Kate Murray said Monday.

Town workers have cleaned more than 800 tons of storm-related wreckage from waterways since the Oct. 29 storm, town officials said in a statement. Debris has included entire bay houses, docks, boats, vending machines and hot tubs, officials said.

Enough remains that it could be a hazard for boaters, Hempstead officials said. "Scattered storm waste and hazards are in Long Island's waterways, posing serious danger to boaters and their passengers," town officials said in a statement.

Murray asked that boaters report debris sightings to local officials.

"However, there is more superstorm material floating into our waterways on a daily basis, and it can present a real and serious hazard to boaters," she said.

A volunteer organization called Operation SPLASH has assisted Hempstead in cleaning debris from waters. The group has "recovered a grandfather clock, a soda vending machine, sections of dock, furniture and tons of other material that Mother Nature has discarded in our coastal areas," officials said in the statement.

Boaters should pilot waterways slowly, particularly during the early part of the boating season, Murray said. Debris moves in and out of waterways with tides and wind shifts, officials said.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and other officials attended a news conference with Murray Monday to call for boater safety.

The problem of Sandy debris in waterways is Islandwide, the officials said.

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