GRAYTON BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Last week, Hurricane Sally stirred up a lot of harmful debris and trash and washed it onto the Walton County beaches. Saturday, it was perfect timing for the county to participate in International Coastal Cleanup Day, where volunteers around the world get together to clean up the beaches.
“It’s usually held every year the third Saturday in September but due to COVID this year, they asked communities to do what they thought would be safest for their volunteer members,” said Laurie Reichenbach, Walton County Beach Ambassador Program director. “So here in Walton County, we are spread across 10 regional accesses and one neighborhood access as well as one of our local resorts, Topsail.”
Last year, the program had over 400 volunteers come across the county. This year, they are hoping to break that record.
The cleanup wasn’t only perfect timing because of the influx of trash from Sally.
“It’s always a good day to do it any day,” said Joyce Levey, Grayton Beach resident. “But after a hurricane it just brings your community together and it brings out new friendships and companionship.”
This year, they are also launching a paddle boat cleanup crew to increase mobility.
“We do have a lot of our coastal dune lakes here that are very rare,” said Jason Cutshaw, Walton County TDC director of administration. “They are prized, kind of, possession of nature here and we want to do what we can to try to protect that.”
Reichenbach says it’s important to keep beaches clean to help keep marine life safe and healthy.
“The fish and the mammals eat that and once ire stomachs are filled with that kind of trash,” Reichenbach said. “They’re no longer hungry, they cannot digest, and they go through a slow starvation process.”
Reichenbach urges people to help maintain beach cleanliness everyday by carrying everything you bring onto the beach back off with you.