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Lanier shoreline holds up well during Irma ahead of cleanup
Lake Lanier

Tropical Storm Irma roughed up Cumming and Forsyth County, but the Lake Lanier waterfront fared relatively well in the storm.

That’s good news for property owners, but it’s also good for the Lake Lanier Association and its volunteers getting ready for their annual cleanup event, Shore Sweep, set for Saturday.

Shore Sweep begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, and advance dropoff locations on islands around the lake opened last week. Those advance locations were due to open before mid-September, but were delayed as Tropical Storm Irma headed for Georgia.

With lake-area municipalities kicking in funding for the cleanup and upwards of 1,000 volunteers participating in the work, the Lake Lanier Association has been able to remove as much as 100,000 pounds of debris from the lake during the event.

Waterlogged dock foam from broken or damaged docks accounts for most of the debris gathered each year. This year, it doesn’t look like Tropical Storm Irma is adding to the workload.

While the storm tore down thousands of trees, damaged homes and cut power to most of the county and the region, personal docks fared well during the storm, said Tom Child, president of Marine Specialties, a dock builder and repair company.

“We went out and we did 25 docks that turned sideways due to the heavy wind, but I got to say, as far as damage goes, the residential docks … we didn’t see anything catastrophic,” Child said Wednesday.

Commercial marinas around Lake Lanier did suffer “serious damage” from the storm, he said, but most of the stray foam around the lake comes from untended residential docks.

“I think a lot of people did a great job of anticipating it and getting ready,” Child said. “If it was a surprise tornado in the middle of the night — no warning — it would have been far, far worse.”

John Barker, a board member of the Lake Lanier Association, was out on his boat Monday, and he said he didn’t see more foam debris than is usual.

“I don’t see as many large pieces of flotation floating free and abandoned,” Barker said. “I expected we might see more trash, but we haven’t. I guess we’ll wait until Saturday and see what’s left.”

The gusts of more than 50 mph recorded in Forsyth County last week likely blew other trash and debris into the lake, and association Executive Director Joanna Cloud said the group is ready for whatever surfaces during the sweep.

Along with Marine Specialties, Boat Dock Works and Martin Docks are donating equipment to haul heavy debris from the lake. Up to Saturday, volunteers will be sweeping the lake with garbage bags and tow lines.

Advance drop locations are listed on the association’s website. Cleanup runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. This will be Shore Sweep’s 29th year.