Debris from Irma closes popular boat ramp

Mandarin Park's boat ramp closed this weekend

By Allyson Henning - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - People trying to launch their boat at of one of Jacksonville’s most popular boat ramps Sunday were forced to find somewhere else to enter the water.

Hurricane Irma caused significant debris to wash up at the Mandarin Park’s boat ramp, forcing officials to close it this weekend.

The boat launch was quiet until crews powered up their machines and started unloading barges packed with debris that had floated in from the St. Johns River.

The barges were the only boats coming and going from the boat ramp. Each one loaded with tree limbs, wood planks and other rubble.

News4Jax reporter Allyson Henning spoke with Dan Gamsky, who said he paddleboards along the river once or twice a week, but this morning was different -- the ramp was closed.

“I wasn't planning to see all of the construction down by the dock and all of the inaccessibility to get down there,” Gamsky said. “So surprising.”

Luckily, he was able to use a nearby kayak launch and hit the river as usual. Gamsky said things looked very different from his normal outing on the river.

“It's amazing when you're on the river. You can see the debris as you drive to the city, but when you go along the river, the destruction along the river is massive,” Gamsky said.

The state-contracted debris-response company, CrowderGulf, said it is working to get rid of hazardous debris quickly, and hope to turn boat ramps back over to the public as soon as possible.

The project manager said the company is anticipating a three-month project throughout Duval County, bouncing around to different boat ramps, with the goal of getting the river clean.

They want to let boaters know that what they’re doing is for the safety and benefit of folks who use state-owned waterways every day.

Boaters who see anything on the water that could be hazardous are asked to report it to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at 904-256-1700.

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