On August 23, 2023

Volunteers clean up Ludlow’s flood-damaged lakes


 Over 40 volunteers came out to Lake Rescue equipped with work gloves, kayaks, small motorboats, and pickup trucks Sunday, Aug. 20, to clean up debris left behind after the historic July 2023 flood dumped about 8 inches of rain upon the Ludlow lakes region. The Lake Rescue Clean-Up Day was the second of two such endeavors; the Lake Rescue Association (LRA) had organized a similar Lake Clean-Up Day the previous weekend on Lake Pauline, just south of the Lake Rescue dam, in cooperation with the Black River Action Team (BRAT). 

“We had two tremendous clean-up events,” said Bruce Zanca, president of LRA. “It was real community spirit, and it made me really proud. Many of our neighbors showed up and worked long hours doing heavy lifting, and we made some great progress cleaning up the devastating mess from the July 10 floods.” 

Zanca said volunteer drivers made more than 20 runs to the (Ludlow) Transfer Station with truckloads of debris from the lake, including “derelict docks, trees floating in the water, trash, all sorts of different things.”

Still, despite the success of the two Lake Clean-Up Days, he said, “We still have some work to do.”

“It was awe-inspiring,” said Gloria Katsiff, an LRA board member, as she handed out sandwiches and bottles of water to volunteers on Red Bridge Road, beside the horseshoe-shaped dam where much of the soggy detritus had been propelled by raging water down the Black River and through 184-acre Lake Rescue. Splintered docks, battered boats, large trees, life jackets, and broken pieces of outdoor furniture were jumbled in an unsightly mess by the lakeshore and against the dam edge before volunteers arrived at 9 a.m. Sunday and got right to work. 

“It gave me goosebumps, to see in the first 30 minutes those big logs and things coming out of the water. People were working with their neighbors, with strangers, working hand in hand, to remove these big items that we thought we would never get out,” said Katsiff. Many of the volunteers had suffered flood damage themselves, and yet still came out to help.

People waded into the murky water, or used kayaks with ropes attached, to pull debris ashore to be carted away. Volunteers with chainsaws, backhoes, and large trucks pulled fallen trees out of the lake, carved them up, and disposed of the wood. Water quality tests conducted by both the LRA and BRAT after the flood found the lake to be within acceptable levels for E. coli.

“I just love this area,” said Emily Sause, who came to volunteer from New York. “When I heard they needed help cleaning up, I had to come.”

“It warms my heart to see how much people care,” said Cindi West, whose home across the street was rendered uninhabitable by floodwaters.

The Lake Rescue Association installed a heavy-duty hand crank on the Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting (DASH) boat it uses to ameliorate invasive milfoil, which enabled the crew to pull up large dock pieces and debris mired in mud since the flood. With the help of volunteers in small motorboats, large dock pieces were returned to their owners around the lake.

The Lake Rescue Association works to maintain, restore, and ensure the future of Lakes Rescue and Pauline and build a stronger lakes district community. It often works in cooperation with BRAT to advance the health of the Black River Watershed, which runs from Plymouth through Lakes Amherst, Echo, Rescue and Pauline, before continuing south to Springfield.

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