This is the final report on the Sanford Dam debris removal project provided by the project volunteer lead, Bill Gebo.
Sponsor and Contracting Party--Four Lakes Task Force
Sponsor's Representative and Engineer--Spicer Group
Volunteers--Provided By Four Lakes Task Force
SALVAGE RECOVERY PROCESS
The operation was conducted using two excavators, two barges, a push boat, and a front loader. One excavator was mounted on the larger barge and moored next to the debris pile. The excavator placed material recovered from the pile onto the smaller transport barge. When that barge was full, the push boat moved the transport barge ashore where the second excavator on shore unloaded the transport barge, which was then moved back to the debris pile. The shore based excavator loaded the trees and woody debris into waiting trucks. Trees accounted for about 90% of the recovered volume.
For recovered items, the excavator on the barge placed the items on that barge until a transport barge load was accumulated, and then loaded them on the transport barge. They were unloaded ashore and placed to the side. When a sufficient volume of items or manmade debris was accumulated, a front loader was used to move it to the storage yard. In the yard, the Fisher employees separated items to be sorted and tagged by volunteers from manmade debris (mostly destroyed dock sections and building material).
DATES OF THE OPERATION
The salvage operation was projected to take 10 working days and the dispensing of items to owners was expected to take an additional five days. During the dispensing days, Fisher would recontour the river bank, load out the manmade debris and scrap damaged items, mainly boats. The entire project was completed essentially on schedule, but two days were lost due to heavy rains. On October 9, a preconstruction and volunteer training meeting was held at the site, with all parties involved, as well as the sheriff's department and representatives of the village of Sanford. Starting on October 19, Fisher mobilized their equipment, placed the barges in the water, built the ramp to the road, and graded the erosion areas in the yard. That was done by October 21. After that, rain delayed the operation until the following Monday, October 26. Salvage operations ended by November 6. Recovery of items by owners, work in the yard, and demobilization took place between Nov 9 and 13.
SUMMARY OF WHAT WAS REMOVED DURING THE PROJECT
As previously mentioned, about 90% of what was removed was trees. The rest was made up of treated timber (demolished dock sections and building material), scrap metal (mainly boats and dock rails), and trashed items not claimed.
At the beginning of the project, two webpages were set up on the FLTF website. One was a page where owners of lost items that could have potentially ended up behind the dam could register those items. That page gave FLTF the owner's contact information, a complete description of the item, and any identifying marks (names, MC numbers, etc). The second webpage was a Doodle calendar where volunteers could sign up to work the various shifts at the site. The existence of both of these pages was made known through the FLFT website and links to them on the Sanford Lake Association website. They were both mentioned also on the Sanford Strong Facebook page and through a press release. There were 76 different items entered into the lost item webpage. Over 40 volunteers signed up for three work shifts a day. Four volunteer captains were appointed to coordinate the daily shifts, make sure the volunteers knew what their tasks were, and make sure they had safety gear. After a couple days of operation, it was decided that the number of shifts could be reduced to two per day and in the last three days, shifts were cancelled as it was sufficient to have only the captain. In the end, 26 volunteers were utilized across 44 shifts.
Three companies were approached to see if they would donate safety gear (hardhats, visibility vests, etc) for the volunteers (four counting Spicer). Home Depot, Douglass, Three Rivers and Spicer donated everything the volunteers needed. A number of forms were created for the tasks, including item log in sheets, and waiver forms to be used on site.
The volunteers sorted, tagged, photographed, and logged in the various items. This information was provided to the Four Lakes office where it was attempted to be matched to the items that were entered into the webpage on the FLTF website by owners of lost property or where identification could be made by other means. The FLTF office scheduled property owners to visit the site on the retrieval days to pick up their items.
ITEMS RECOVERED AND RETURNED TO OWNERS
A total of 86 items were recovered from behind the dam. This included about 15 boats, kayaks and pedal boats. Most of them were severely damaged and had to be scrapped. The majority of dock sections were destroyed in the flood and were not logged in or counted. About a dozen dock sections were undamaged and a few were claimed by owners. There was a wide variety of other items ranging from boat accessories to lawn furniture. In addition, a number of hazardous items were logged in and dealt with. Two large propane storage tanks were recovered and returned to the owning companies, and a large transformer was recovered and returned to Consumers Power. A number of small grill gas size propane tanks were also recovered. They were given to Stanford Propane to deal with. A large steel bin was used to collect various recovered household chemicals and gasoline cans and that was sent to Clean Harbors Environmental/Safety Clean for proper disposal. Several large batteries were sent to a recycler.
Of the 86 items recovered and logged in, 27 were returned to their owners, or the owners did not want them (damaged boats, etc). That is a recovery return rate of 31%, which is fairly reasonable given the circumstances. A variety of unclaimed undamaged items were donated to nonprofits. Chippewa Nature Center received the large floating dock to be used at their wetlands pond, Little Forks Conservancy received 6 wooden dock sections to be used as boardwalk on their hiking trails, and Sanford Rebuild Fund received a few plastic watercraft and a wide variety of smaller items. Sanford Rebuild will post them on the Sanford Strong Facebook page to see if anyone claims anything. After a month or so, they will be auctioned off with the funds going to Sanford Rebuild. Everything else was scrapped. It turns out that some of those items will be used as part of a Christmas display in the Sanford Shines Christmas project.
A lot of effort was put into the whole recovery and return process and may seem like a lot of resources for relatively small value. However, the public relations benefit to FLTF was very positive. Besides the word of mouth benefit, a number of TV stations and newspapers visited the site during the operations, and interestingly, their focus was more on the attempt to return items to owners than it was on the excavation operations. The human interest factor was at work, no doubt.
The total hours worked by all volunteers was 245. That was made up of 118 hours by shift volunteers on site, 51 hours by the volunteer captains, and 76 hours by the project coordinator (26 hours on site and 50 hours of office work). The presumption is that the volunteer hours will be allowed by NRCS as contribution in-kind toward the 25% obligation that Four Lakes has on the project. At an assumed value of $25 per hour, the volunteer hours would be valued at over $6,000. This will have to be confirmed with NRCS, but a cursory reading of the regulations seemed to indicate that.
REPORT SUBMITTED BY WILLIAM GEBO
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