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'Messy' river getting a cleaning in Calabash

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

CALABASH—Sure, it yields fish, but have you ever wondered what else might be in the Calabash River?

Brothers Sam and Jackie Thomas are finding out this week as clean the waterway renowned for its fishing boats, seafood restaurants and scenic views.

Another, less pretty scene lurks just beneath the surface.

A discarded mountain bike, piles of wiring and a jumbo-sized piece of Styrofoam are among items retrieved from the muck and water since the two launched their clean-up for the town of Calabash on Monday.

“This river is in a mess,” Sam Thomas said as the two showed the pile of unsightly garbage they’d collected so far Tuesday morning.

Battling biting sand flies that had emerged with the morning sun, the two donned boots to go into the goo again next to the Calabash docks.

“We’re working with the tide,” Jackie Thomas explained.

At low tide, they pick up everything they can close to shore.

After the tide rises, the junk they’ve uncovered floats to the surface “and we can dip it up,” Sam said.

The two said they were hired by the town and Calabash Mayor Anthony “Donnie” Clemmons to help get the river and its environs in order.

“We’re doing this for Donnie,” Sam said. “We have to help Donnie. Our goal is to have it looking better all the time.”

According to the brothers, the garbage they’ve collected so far is just skimming the surface.

In coming days, they said they’ll start removing “heavy stuff” using town equipment.

“We’re going from city limit to city limit, as far as the waterfront,” Jackie said, from the Hurricane dock to what was once the Calabash Marina.

Sam said it’s unbelievable what people have thrown into the river, from the bicycle that apparently was new since its tires show little wear, to “50 throwaway cigarette lighters,” among other debris.

The town is paying them for their services, but they said it’s more of a community service on their part.

“I’d clean it out without any money,” Jackie Thomas said. “It needs to be cleaned up.”

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at llewis@brunswickbeacon.com