Assateague Island Recovery Efforts Still Ongoing

ASSATEAGUE – While it make take some time before Assateague Island is fully recovered from the coastal storm that ravaged the mid-Atlantic coast two weeks ago, some of the totals for the tons of debris cleared from one end of the 37-mile barrier island to the other suggests the damage was considerably more than first anticipated.

It was almost business as usual this week on Assateague, as park staffers and volunteers continued to work to restore order after the storm, a combination of the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida and a strong coastal low, battered the island two weeks ago. A massive recovery effort was launched in the wake of the storm including clean-up crews from national parks all over the region.

Assateague Island staffers have logged over 800 hours of overtime in a concerted effort to reopen the national seashore facilities and visitor services. In addition, crews from other national parks all over the region arrived on the island this week including National Capitol Parks, Wolf Trap, Colonial National Park, Richmond National Battlefield, Greenbelt Park, Fort McHenry, Manassas, Shenandoah and others with heavy equipment, pick-ups, dump trucks, bobcats, and a dedication to help out a fellow park.

In addition, dozens of local volunteers have been helping with the recovery effort including the Assateague Mobile Sportsfisherman’s Association (AMSA), the county’s DLITE organization and several others.

One of the major tasks undertaken thus far is removing the hundreds of old tires that washed up the beach at Assateague. During the storm, a decades-out artificial reef off the coast made entirely of old tires broke apart and an estimated 2,000 tires washed ashore on the barrier island. To date, recovery crews have removed 1,874 tires from the Maryland end of the island alone.

Other recovery efforts undertaken thus far include removing more than 10 tons of wood and other debris, removing miles of exposed and dangerous old fencing, removing and recycling over 1,000 wooden fence posts, stabilizing and repairing boardwalks, digging out parking lots covered in feet of soft sand and reopening other man-made structures and other park facilities damaged during the storm.

Despite the massive clean-up effort still underway, Assateague officials appear to be taking the storm and the resulting damage in stride.

“There’s a lot more work yet to be done because of this storm, but change is the way of things on a barrier island,” said Superintendent Trish Kicklighter. “You learn to roll with the island or it rolls out from under you.”