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150 Volunteers Swarm to Clean Up Flagler’s Beaches, Some to Reopen by Mid-Week; FPC Students Clear Graham Swamp Trail

| October 16, 2016

They worked in waves Sunday morning, some 150 volunteers along the Flagler Beach shore, cleaning up the mess Hurricane Matthew left behind so the city's beaches could begin reopening by mid-week, bringing back visitors and residents. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

They worked in waves Sunday morning, some 150 volunteers along the Flagler Beach shore, cleaning up the mess Hurricane Matthew left behind so the city’s beaches could begin reopening by mid-week, bringing back visitors and residents. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

For some 150 volunteers Sunday morning, including Flagler Beach and Palm Coast firefighters, city and county commissioners, residents and non-residents, church was the more than one-mile stretch of beach they all counter-attacked like a tsunami in reverse: what Hurricane Matthew had shredded and marred they methodically cleaned up, picked up and stacked up, plank by plank, block by block, starting in the area of the boardwalk by the pier and moving north faster than Mayor Linda Provencher had imagined possible.


“I never dreamed that this much stuff would be off the beach” that quickly, Provencher said, the bulk of the job having been accomplished in an hour.

Beach worshippers had been unleashed, moving mountains of debris. Not one hour into the clean-up, which had started at 7:45 this morning, the east side of Ocean Shore Boulevard from the area of the pier north to around 10th Street was lined with mound after mound of planks, debris, garbage, limbs of pier and the undefinable mangle of storm trash Hurricane Matthew had left on the beaches, after mowing down dunes, walkways and parts of the road and reshaping the contours of the shore from smooth inclines to jagged cliffs and cuts.

The beaches have been closed since the hurricane passed through, because they’ve been made unsafe by the debris–broken glass, nails sticking out of planks, rusty metal bits, and so on–and the absence of beach access, now that so many walkovers have been destroyed. The plan is to have at least the beach in the area of the boardwalk opened up soon, with as quick a repair to as many walk-overs as possible in the near future to progressively reopen further portions. It’s essential for the city’s economy and its sense of normalcy, even though big portions of A1A, which collapsed, will remain closed, forcing businesses along that stretch at the south end of town to try to survive by attracting customers through Central Avenue.

The before-and-after view of the Graham Swamp trail today, as volunteers chiefly made up of FPC's track and field team got to work cleaning it up. Click on the image for larger view. (Milissa Holland for FlaglerLive)

The before-and-after view of the Graham Swamp trail today, as volunteers chiefly made up of FPC’s track and field team got to work cleaning it up. Click on the image for larger view. (Milissa Holland for FlaglerLive)

“There’s a few that are just missing a few steps. Once we can get those secure, then at least people will be able to get on to the beach,” Provencher said. The water-quality test came back fine on Saturday. “So maybe by mid-week we can get part of the beach opened anyway.”

“Only a few walkovers need repairs along that stretch and should be repaired rather quickly,” Rick Belhumeur, a Flagler Beach city commissioner, said.

The Flagler Beach clean-up was one of two Sunday morning, the second taking place almost simultaneously along the paths of Graham Swamp in Palm Coast, between Colbert Lane and Old Kings Road, David Halliday, the always-imaginative coach of Flagler Palm Coast High School’s track and field team, and a sucker for good causes, put out a call among his students and others to come out and clear the paths of the jumble. It’s among the paths the students run in practice. They were joined by Palm Coast Mayor-Elect Milissa Holland and Assistant Coach Alex Giorgianni, turning parts of the trail from jungle to pathways again.

“We run here all the time so we just thought it’d be a good thing to come over here and help clean-up,” Micah Slicer, an FPC senior, said moments before joining the effort. He was with freshman Joey Orndorff. “It’s pretty messed up back there.”

“I totally should have brought a machete,” said Aquila Gonzalez, speaking words you don’t too often hear a 10th grader say.

“I have watched this community come together in times of crisis for years. This day, seeing all of these students out here, working so hard, will be a day I never forget,” Holland said. “We are Flaglerstrong!”

flagler beaches

Soon to be ready for prime time again. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

In Flagler Beach City Manager Larry Newsom called Mayor Provencher at 7:30 Saturday morning and suggested putting together a volunteer effort to clean-up the beaches. She immediately put out the call, teaming up with Mary Louks, president of a residents’ association in town. Once a month, the Flagler All-Stars, run by Provencher, conducts a clean-up along the beach anyway. “Usually we just have a handful, we could have 6 or we could have 20, but this is a special deal,” Sheryl Hall, who lives just off the beach with her husband Jeff, said, a big black half-filled bag of trash in her hand as Jeff filled it. “Because this is basically the county beach.”

“It is unbelievable, look at this,” Flagler Beach City Commissioner Joy McGrew, herself in the thick of clean-up duty a few steps down the road, said, pointing to workers on the beach and on surviving walkovers. “This is a true community pulling together to take care of itself with the help of all its residents and visitors. It’s a beautiful thing.”

linda provencher flagler beach

Flagler Beach Mayor Linda Provencher, largely responsible for coordinating today’s clean-up, also found safe work for children to do. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Nearer the pier, all in work mode, Provencher had happened by Marshall Shupe, the city commissioner, Barbara Revels, who chairs the county commission, and Sharon Atack, the former county judge, along with Pauline and Thom Gray. By then they’d completed the majority of the work.

“We’ll be doing several beach clean-ups picking up the cigarette butt and the bottles and all that, this was just picking up the heavy debris. But the most amazing thing is now we have people picking up the litter because we got so much done so quickly,” Provencher said. She estimated the number of volunteers, who were being signed up, at upwards of 150, with more signing up even late into the morning.

And why was Revels there? “Because my mayor called me,” she said. “I would have been very upset if I hadn’t known about it, since I don’t do social media, like I should.”

A wealthy resident at noon treated all volunteers to lunches at the Golden Lion and Tortugas restaurants.

flagler beach pier

It shall be back. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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11 Responses for “150 Volunteers Swarm to Clean Up Flagler’s Beaches, Some to Reopen by Mid-Week; FPC Students Clear Graham Swamp Trail”

  1. Dee Wynne says:

    Our entire team of police, fire, government
    Did and are doing a stellar job protecting us our property and the entire town

    During this catastrophe 👏👏🌟thanks everyone.

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    I really appreciate the State Police and SWAT teams with the machine guns. I was so worried those two Black families that live here were going to loot and riot.

  3. Fredrick says:

    #beachlivesmatter

  4. Barry Hartmann says:

    Flaglerlive!!!!please show some common sense and remove the posting above. It’s racist, not true, and it’s only purpose is to start trouble.
    DO THE RIGHT THIING!!!

  5. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Please don’t forget to thank Eric Cooley who worked hard right along side of the mayor to get 170 volunteers rounded up in less than 24 hours. Thanks to our fire Chief Pace for bringing nearly every firefighter we have. Our firefighters also brought work gloves and plenty of coolers with ice water. Thanks also to the Palm Coast Fighters for coming and getting down and dirty. Thanks to all our city staff, starting with our city manager Mr. Newsom who was up at 2:30 am working on getting our little city back to normal as quickly as possible. Thanks to the police department, sanitation, public works and the lifeguards who had already stacked most of the debris in piles. And once again, thanks to everyone that has played their part in getting things done since the storm.

  6. Ed Davis says:

    It I s a shame more If us weren’t invited! How does the City notify it’s residents when there are opportunities to help? They have my number, they told me to get out o f town just a week ago! Maybe a list of emails or a text msg?
    Appreciate both the Mayor and Councilwoman Revels efforts but lets n ot forget the rest of us?

  7. Oldseadog says:

    THANK YOU Volunteers for bringing our wonderful natural treasures back by
    your clean-up efforts!

  8. James D. Fiske says:

    Slightly over 50 very hard working volunteers came out today (Oct. 16, 2016) to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park and performed post Hurricane Matthew clean up.
    Great turnout from the Embry Riddle University AFROTC cadets, Dr. Nancy Duke’s Daytona State College History class, members from Troop 200, Bunnell, and local residents!
    A special THANK YOU to our chainsaw crew: Cameron Johnson, Donald T Stafford, Jason Stanier, Daniel Sampson and Mr. Bill Lenssen!
    Great Job to all that helped and a huge THANK YOU!!!
    James D. Fiske
    President – Friends of Tomoka Basin State Parks

  9. Anonymous says:

    Volunteers are wonderful!! I would like to now see the paperwork being submitted to the Federal Government for clean up. I would be willing to bet the county has calculated this into the estimated loss for funds to be received. One thing we readers don’t think of when we read that our county is going to get Federal money is that it too came from our tax dollars. It is not money that is just laying around that our government hasn’t spent.

  10. Beach Bum says:

    How can we sign up for future clean up days

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