Volunteers clean up debris on storm-pummeled Plum Island

Newburyport, MA., 03/25/13, Volunteers worked with homeowners, local businesses, local and state agencies to come together to assist in the clean up and repair to Plum Island beaches. Ashley Ashmead, cq, of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, used to come to Plum Island as a child. She picks debris out of a wall of rocks. Section: North Weekly Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
Ashley Ashmead of New Ipswich, N.H., who used to come to Plum Island as a child, helped out.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Volunteers with brooms and shovels cleared Newbury roads so coated with sand that the asphalt was invisible. Others pulled a bathtub out of a marsh.

A strong sense of community accompanied cleanup efforts on Plum Island today, as residents picked up the detritus left behind by a series of bruising winter storms that eroded much of the shoreline, said Sam Joslin, Newbury’s building inspector.

“Everything that you would expect to find in a house was spread out there,” Joslin said, referring to the debris left behind by collapsing houses.

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Six homes have been demolished after their foundations were undermined by beach erosion, which has plagued the area ever since the Feb. 8-9 blizzard, Joslin said.

Nearly 100 volunteers gathered this morning to clean up those homes’ boards and nails, and an assortment of other construction materials and garbage left behind by the storm, he said.

“We had a number of folks just come down and ask if they could volunteer,” Joslin said. “A couple restaurants came and offered food for lunch. It just kind of snowballed into a larger event than we had anticipated.”

The cleanup effort was originally targeted at the shore, but as the tide came in and covered what is left of the beach the volunteers moved on to other parts of the island, said Newbury Town Administrator Tracy Blais.

“It was something very positive coming out of all this,” she said. “Basically [the volunteers] took on the whole island instead of just cleaning up the beach.”