Recently retired Mike Desmond said he wasn’t surprised at all the event drew so many residents, adding that when Plum Island needs help, its residents were there to answer the call.
“They usually do when something needs to be done,” Desmond said.
After spending several hours picking up debris, sometimes on their hands and knees, volunteers amassed enough material to fill a large Dumpster plus a bonfire-sized pile, both located inside the Plum Island Center parking lot.
Coordinating the effort at Plum Island Taxpayers Association hall was Newbury Conservation Agent Doug Packer with assistance from Plum Island state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. Packer said residents began signing in around 8:30 a.m. Volunteers were broken off into groups of 10 with one person assigned as leader. The groups were then split into eight different beach zones including the federal reservation beach, Annapolis Way, Fordham Way, Southern Boulevard, two beachfront areas and two marsh edge areas.
Following the massive clean-up, volunteers returned to the function hall to feast on free meals provided by the Beachcoma, Plum Island Grille, Bob Lobster and other local businesses.
Packer said the volunteer effort began organically as his office and other town officials began receiving phone calls from concerned residents looking for ways to help the community bounce back from the damaging storm. Eventually, it was decided to combine the many offers of help into a single cleanup.
“I’m thrilled that we have those kind of neighbors,” Packer said yesterday, adding that about 65 people signed up to volunteer.
Tarr called the effort a tremendous outpouring of support offering further evidence how important the island was to its residents.
“This helps prove the point that Plum Island is a lot more than erosion and crisis,” Tarr said.