Typically, the surfers show up at the beach with boards under their arms ready to ride waves. But on Monday, they instead showed up on the sand armed with buckets and bags.
The South Bay Boardriders Club mobilized on Monday its newly formed Stormwater Rapid Response Team, a volunteer group that stood by storm drains and scoured the sand to scoop up trash flushing down from inland to the beach as the recent storm blew through.
The club’s mission statement is to be “guardians of the coast,” so the volunteer effort fits with the group’s goals, said Derek Levy, a founder of the South Bay Boardriders Club.
The team of about 40 waited where four storm drains spit out, two in Hermosa Beach and two in Manhattan, catching the debris as it flowed past – before it could hit the ocean.
“They were messed up,” Levy said of the state of local beaches after the rains. “We hadn’t had rain like that in about nine months, those drains come down the streets, down the sewers and the rain water gushes out of four major drain pipes.
“We’re trying to mitigate that by being down there with our strike team,” Levy said. “It’s important for me personally, but also for the community. The beach is beautiful.”
Volunteers showed up at dawn as the “first flush” gushed toward shore. Another group came at low tide in the afternoon to walk the waterline looking for debris that made it to the ocean, but was pushed up on the sand by waves and the tides.
There was a lot of plastic, water bottle caps, tennis balls and baseballs found. Among the most odd sights? A dead raccoon and a car bumper.
Through the day, rain poured down at times, but still the group persisted.
“We got drenched,” Levy said. “We were the only ones on the beach. It was really fun. It felt good that we were out there helping a bit.”
While the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors does a great job keeping beaches clean, Levy said, it seems more could be done upstream to avoid or catch the trash before it flows to the coast.
“Some of the stuff, baseballs and tennis balls get lost by kids down the sewers. But there’s a lot of stuff that wouldn’t be there,” he said. “It’s a matter of people not throwing it out the window or finding receptacles to throw away trash. That certainly can be improved.”