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City done with hurricane cleanup; county, almost
Officials plan to burn more than 20,000 cubic yards of debris
W Matthew Debris photo1223
Seen with a pickup truck for scale, the city of Statesboros debris pile from Hurricane Matthew has been estimated at 13,000 cubic yards. The countys pile may surpass it. - photo by Special

The city of Statesboro has, at last, finished collecting tree parts and other debris left at the curb after Hurricane Matthew, which passed through the area Oct. 7-8. Outside the city limits, Bulloch County's crews have almost, but not quite, finished collecting the debris along roads.

Together, the two local governments appear to have amassed more than 20,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris. They plan to begin burning it early in the new year if the state permits.

 

Deadline passed

Staff members in charge of both collection efforts want to remind the public that the deadline to pile debris along curbs and rights of way was Nov. 30. But while the city insists that everyone return to following its rules for regular yard waste collection, the county is asking to be informed of any roadside debris piles it has missed.

Jason Boyles, Statesboro’s public works and engineering director, called Wednesday morning with the announcement that the city’s cleanup effort is complete.

“I also wanted to remind the public that the city is no longer collecting storm debris inside the city limits of Statesboro,” Boyles said. “They need to be sure to follow all applicable city ordinances and policies for proper disposal of that debris, because we do have limits on what we can accept curbside.”

Picking up felled trees is not part of the city’s normal, routine yard waste service, he noted. To be picked up without special fees being assessed, sections of trunks or limbs must not be longer than six feet, heavier than 60 pounds or more than six inches in diameter, the Solid Waste Ordinance states.

If residents or businesses have questions about the rules, they can either check the city’s website, www.statesboroga.gov, or call the city Public Works Department at (912) 764-0681, Boyles said. On the city website, relevant info can be found by going through the “Departments” tab to “Public Works,” selecting “Report a Problem” and then “Limbs & Trees.”

 

County still collecting

Meanwhile, the county crews aren’t quite done yet, said Dink Butler, Bulloch County’s transportation director. Unlike the city, the county doesn’t operate a regular curbside yard waste service, and the cleanup required reassignment of trucks and personnel normally used for road maintenance.

“At this point I would say that we’re probably 75 to 80 percent complete,” Butler said Wednesday. “I expect it to take us to mid-to-late January.”

But the crews have finished picking up most of the trees and other debris residents piled in the rights of way of roads, including those within residential subdivisions.

“We’ve got most of the roadways done,” Butler said. “We’ve got to get the airport, the recreation department properties, and there may be some other issues out there.”

Roads in the Six Points area around the intersection of Burkhalter and Rushing roads, particularly Josh Hagin Road, were the only roads he knew had debris remaining to be collected. But he added that there are probably spots that have been missed, out of almost 2,000 miles of roadway in Bulloch County.

So, Butler asks that anyone who knows of debris that was piled beside a road by Nov. 30 and is still there call the county Public Works office at 764-6369.

“If there’s something that we have not already picked up, then give us a call,” he said. “But we’re not taking anything else that’s being put out there.”

Debris still to be removed from county lands includes trees that fell in noncritical areas of the airport and debris piled and waiting to be hauled away at some of the Parks and Recreation Department’s facilities. One he mentioned is the disc golf course near the airport.

 

Two big piles

The city collected approximately 13,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris that resulted from Hurricane Matthew, Boyles said. For comparison, the city collected 3,000 to 4,000 cubic yards after Winter Storm Pax in February 2014, and that was mainly limbs, not remains of entire trees.

The city and county have been amassing the debris in two separate piles on a county-owned site, which isn’t at the landfill.

Butler has not been calculating the volume of the county’s pile and said he had not looked at it recently. But he estimated that the county’s debris will exceed the city’s in volume. That would put the total well over 20,000 cubic yards.

The city and county are working together on a plan to dispose of it.

“We’re hoping to be able to burn, but we’ll know more about that in the coming weeks,” Boyles said.

Permission from the state Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Forestry Commission will be required.

“I’m hoping that they will allow us some burn permits, maybe starting after the first of the year,” Butler said.

The city and county are reporting their cleanup expenses for federal reimbursement under the disaster declaration announced through the Federal Emergency Management Agency in October.

Reimbursement will be for 85 percent of costs reported in the first 30 days, then 80 percent of costs from 31 through 90 days, and 75 percent of costs incurred from 91 to 180 days after the storm, Butler said.

After the debris collection, he said, the county will still have storm-related work to do.

“The follow-up is getting the sediment and debris out of the ditches on the dirt roads and things like that, which will continue on for probably a minimum of another six months,” Butler said.

 

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

 

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