October 1, 2012

Omaha Clean Sweep a Success!

This was Missouri River Relief's 4th clean-up in the Omaha area.  Last year we enjoyed a fun and successful clean-up just before the monumental flooding, now known as the "Great Flood of 2011".

Together with our community clean-up partners and volunteers like you, we were able to remove 5.2 tons of trash from the banks of the river!

Mutual of Omaha clean-up in Omaha-Council Bluffs 9-20-12
On Saturday, September 22, 208 volunteers showed up at NP Dodge Park to donate a few hours of their time to beautify and help clean the Missouri River.  Nebraska Game and Parks biologists Gerald Mestl and Josh Wilhelm brought their huge boats to help haul volunteers.

Omaha-Council Bluffs Missouri River Clean-up 9-22-12
We had to move the cleanup to NP Dodge this year due to extremely low river levels and tons of sand that had silted in the Lewis & Clark Marina in downtown Omaha.  NP Dodge Park is more than 10 miles North of downtown Omaha, and our scout crews were having trouble finding loads of trash along the shoreline, as is often most prevalent downstream of any big city.  On top of that, the weeds on the banks were high up, way over our heads!  Where would we take 200+ volunteers?   

Regardless, the show must go on right?  So we scouted 10 miles of the river, flagging any site that looked people friendly, even if there wasn't much trash, we could only hope that the volunteers would enjoy hanging out on the bank of the river on such a beautiful day.  Despite not seeing the trash, we knew it was there.  Much of what we saw were big tanks, barrels and docks that had been ripped apart and sent downstream after last year's monumental flood.

On Thursday, we had hooked up with a great group of volunteers from Mutual of Omaha and cleaned up a stretch of river just above the Narrows River Park.  In just a few hours, the crew had cleaned up 1 ton of trash to include a boat load of tires!  So that was our first clue, that there was indeed an assortment of garbage littering the banks of the Big Muddy, even if we were upstream of Omaha.
Mutual of Omaha clean-up in Omaha-Council Bluffs 9-20-12

Well the big day arrived, and the weather was gorgeous!  Craig Howell from Mayor Suttle's office and their amazing Americorps Vista volunteers really saved the day.  They efficiently got registration set up, and then broke down in preparation for lunch which at the last minute had been switched to Sam & Louie's Pizza!  Thanks to Craig's hard work, we were able to get lunch for the hundreds of volunteers donated, which really helps keep Missouri River Relief's costs down. 

"Git that Garbage" Trash Contest at Omaha Clean-up 9-22-12
Then the volunteers started to arrive, our crew got the boat ramp ready with trash bags, tools, and our safety & dispatch areas ready, the boat drivers had a meeting, and then it was time to start loading volunteers in boats.  Before you know it, we had boat load after boat load of volunteers going out on the river.  Over half of the people I talked to in my boat had never been on the river before, some didn't really know what to expect, but after educating the volunteers about what we were doing out there, and why it is so important, I sensed that all of the volunteers had a really good time crawling around on the banks of the Big Muddy.

After bringing the volunteers back for lunch just a couple hours later, part of our lunch program is the "Git that Garbage" Trash Contest!  As the volunteers happily finished their pizza, Jennifer Morrel from the National Park Service gave a great talk about the animals of the Missouri River, and showed some beautiful otter & beaver pelts.  Then it was time to show off our trash treasures from the day.  We were so happy to see the excitement in the kids eyes as they proudly showed off their animal finds from the morning, and other odd trash treasures.  Check out our entire trash tally to include the Trash Contest entries below!

The rest of the afternoon, we finished loading all of the trash onto a barge donated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  On Friday, we had set up empty dumpsters donated by Waste Management & Remelt Industries for landfill & scrap metal trash.  We had a separate pile for tires which was being picked up on Monday from the Bridgestone "One Team One Planet" program, and unfortunately, we had a fairly large pile of hazardous waste chemical jugs and barrels to deal with too.  The Army Corps guys helped us off load all of it on Monday, and took the hazardous waste and dozen blue & white 55-gallon barrels.  They were such a huge help!

Omaha-Council Bluffs Missouri River Clean-up 9-22-12
We certainly couldn't have done it without the help of all of our sponsors, partners & volunteers.  Thank you Omaha/Council Bluffs!

Our Sponsors and Partners

 Here's the results from a successful day of cleaning up the banks of the Missouri River:

Omaha Missouri River Cleanup
NP Dodge Park, Omaha, NE
September 22nd, 2012

Total Volunteers: 208
MRR Crew:  15
Boats:  8  (5 Missouri River Relief, 2 Nebraska Game & Parks, 1 Army Corps of Engineers)
River Miles:  8 Missouri River miles (624-632)
River Level: 15.42 ft  (Omaha Missouri River Gage)
Tires: 58  (1 ton)
Landfill Tonnage:  2.7 tons 
Scrap Metal: 1.5 tons
Total Tonnage:  5.2 Tons!

Groups & Agencies Involved:  Missouri River Relief, Mayor’s Suttle's Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Back to the River, Captain Planet Foundation, Constellation Energy, Gallup, Inc., Northern Natural Gas, Sam & Louie’s Pizza, Harrah’s, Bridgestone "One Team One Planet", City of Council Bluffs, IA, City of Omaha, NE, Country Inn & Suites, Green Omaha Coalition, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Pottawattamie County Conservation, Remelt Industries, Waste Management, Big Muddy Urban Farm, G4S, Boy Scout Troop 510, Americorps Vista, Leo Club, LDS Mormon Church, Keep Iowa Beautiful and the National Park Service

Names of River Teams:  River Rats, Griffindoor, King Cobra, Stormin’ Mormons, Big Brown, The Saber, Tigers, Slimeballs, Kick Butt, Mudders, Broncos, Asian Carp, G4S, Rip Rap

Trash Tally!!!!

185 Bags of TrashOmaha-Council Bluffs Missouri River Clean-up 9-22-12
58 Tires
18 Chunks O’ Styrofoam

3 Coolers
6 – 5 gallon Plastic Buckets
18  - 55 gallon Plastic Barrels
3 – 55 gallon Metal Drums
1 – 25 gallon Metal Drum
3 Refrigerators
1 Refrigerator Door
1 Ice Dispenser
5 Propane Tanks
1 Car Seat
1 ½ Bed Springs
Omaha-Council Bluffs Missouri River Clean-up 9-22-12 3 ½ Bed Frames
2 Couch Cushions
6 Chairs
1 Picnic Table

4 Counter Tops
2 Chaise Lounge Chairs
1 Car Door
2 Car Mats
5 pieces of Carpet
1 set of Cabinet Doors
20 ft. of plastic Corrugated Roofing
20 ft. of 1 ½ inch Plastic Pipe
2 ½ Doors
30 ft. of Wiring Conduit
1 plastic Step Ladder
1 - 4’x8’ wooden Lattice
1 – 10’x20’ DockOmaha-Council Bluffs Missouri River Clean-up 9-22-12
1 glass Window
2 ft. piece of an I-beam
400 lbs of assorted Metal
120 ft. of 1-inch Cable
100 lbs of Rebar
1 – 5 ft. Pipe
1 – 4ft. Metal Cable
1 BBQ Grill
4 TVs
1 Fishing Pole
1 Tarp
3 – 250 gallon square Plastic Tanks with cage & spout (2 with purple ink type liquid)
1 – 30 gallon Trash Can
1 – 500 gallon Metal Diesel Tank
1 Buoy
1 – 5 gallon Metal Kerosine Can

Trash Contest Entries!!! (winners in bold)

Biggest Trash:
Omaha-Council Bluffs Missouri River Clean-up 9-22-12 1 bright blue Chunk O’ Styrofoam
1 part of a Bed Frame
1 fiberglass corrugated Roof

Most Artistic Trash
1 small silver Christmas Ornament
1 tiny glittery Styrofoam Ball
1 Bike Spoke decorated with Plastic Bags
1 Metal Hubcap
½ inch Metal Wire

Wierdest Trash
1 weird looking blond lady Plush Doll
1 Spongebob Wind-up Doll
"Git that Garbage" Trash Contest at Omaha Clean-up 9-22-12 1 plush Elmo Doll
1 Blow-up Can of Pork & Beans

Most Fashionable Trash
1 dirty Rag
1 grey Tank Top
1 pair of dirty Socks
1 white lacey Bra
1 size-11 High Heel Shoe

Oldest Trash
1 large Light Bulb
1 car window crank Metal Gear
1 – 5 gallon Metal Bucket Lid

Most Useful Trash
1 large Light Bulb
1 Exercise Sign
1 “No Parking” in Picnic Area Sign
1 YMCA “Parking” Sign
1 Basket BallOmaha-Council Bluffs Missouri River Clean-up 9-22-12
1 Soccer Ball
1 Cooler

Best Animal Find
1 Goose Head Decoy
1 Duck Butt Decoy
1 Full Duck Decoy
1 pink Flamingo
1 wooden Pig-shaped Cuttingboard
1 Feather
1 Gar Skin

Best Darned Find of the Day
A 2-headed Dragon

It was a long & tiring, but ever so fulfilling day... as River Relief crew dog, Saffron can attest to.

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