Tornado cleanup moves to the water

- Six boats and a workforce of about 20: That is what Sarasota County officials hope will be enough to clean up Sarasota Bay.

"We are seeing a lot of aluminum, aluminum siding, broken wood, broken shredded pieces of timbers and spars that came off and plywood," said Brett Blackburn with Reef Innovations.

The debris is scattered from Siesta Key to the mainland.  Pieces of roofs, windows, and even flags were thrown in the water and around the mangroves when a tornado hit the area just over a week ago.

"It can be very difficult if you can't see it with your eyes. You need to have some way to viewing material below that is below waist deep or deeper."

The cleanup will last a majority of the week.  It will stretch from the Intracostal to three canals. 

The hardest part will be finding debris that is submerged.  Deputy Mike Watson uses a side scanner aboard his boat to search for debris.

"All this here is debris," he pointed out.  "This right here looks like an upside-down boat."

When he notices a spot, he marks it and lets the county know.  The cleanup crews then head to the area or flag it for a diver to visit later.

Time is of the essence.

"We want to get out any materials that would be unsafe to marine life and we don't want to leave any pollutants that may cause," said Jane Grogg, the manager of neighbor services.

The longer the debris sits on the bottom of the bay, the harder it will be to retrieve.

"It is foreign material that shouldn't be there and as it's moving around, water moves it, winds blow it, different things along the line.  It is going to cause greater and greater damage," Blackburn added.

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