JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – As the cleanup after Hurricane Ian continues, one Jacksonville Beach elementary school stepped up to find a way to help.
The beaches were back open Saturday but there were some things that didn’t belong in the aftermath of Ian.
Students and parents from Seabreeze Elementary School’s Kelp Club spent a few hours cleaning up debris left by the storm on Jacksonville Beach.
The new club’s first event may end up being one of its most important.
Mandy Moldehnke is the leader of the group.
“We walked around the beach yesterday. There is a lot of debris, metal, trash, concrete,” Moldehnke said.
They found cigarette butts, plastic, glass and wood along the shore.
The Kelp Club had the cleanup event planned for nearly a month before the storm even developed. But the sense of urgency intensified when Ian swept through.
Conor Brunson, a first grader, made it his mission to clear the beach the best he could with his mother, brother and schoolmates.
“I just like the beach and I am trying to save it,” Brunson said. “It was just fun to make the beach better for people.”
The volunteers filled up dozens of buckets with what they could find to toss away.
“It is a sense of community,” Moldehnke said. “It is boots on the ground. We are the locals. We have to take care of our area.”
If you go out to help clear the beach, keep in mind that erosion has done a number on the dunes.
Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman said they lost about 25% of the dune system.
What’s left of the dunes look like mini-cliffs and might be tempting to stand or play on, but they are dangerous, officials warn, because they could collapse.