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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Diminishing debris: Contractors to complete Pottawatomie County storm cleanup

  • District 2 Pottawatomie County Commissioner Randy Thomas says more than 25,000 cubic yards of tornado debris has been removed from his district over the past few weeks.
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  • District 2 Pottawatomie County Commissioner Randy Thomas says more than 25,000 cubic yards of tornado debris has been removed from his district over the past few weeks.
    Thomas, who said crews are making a last pass through areas this week, said crews plan to be finished by Thursday.
    Contractors from Alabama have been working in Pottawatomie County since the first of July to haul off both tree limbs and construction-type debris left behind after an EF-4 tornado ripped through this area May 19.
    Thomas, who said there was much damage in his district, especially around the SH 102 and Lake Road areas, along with areas of Walker Road and Fishmarket Road, said crews will make passes in those areas in the coming days.
    "People need to get stuff to the curb — we're going to wrap it up," Thomas said. "We've had a big mess to clean up…now it's time for rebuilding."
    District 1 Commissioner Melissa Dennis, who had damage in her area, including homes hit near U.S. 177 and Interstate 40, said crews will start on a third and final pass through her district starting on Monday.
    "They'll be finished up by Thursday," Dennis said.
    When commissioners awarded debris removal bids during a June meeting, they anticipated there would be at least 30,000 cubic yards of waste to be picked up in county areas affected by the storms.
    When all numbers are tallied, it is believed that figure will be much higher.
    Thomas said as of Friday, crews have picked up almost 26,000 cubic yards in District 2 alone.
    The entire cost of the tornado cleanup won't be completely calculated until work is complete. The county's bid calls for the contractor to receive $4.75 for every cubic yard of burnable debris they collect, then $12 for every cubic yard of non-burnable debris.
    And while the costs have adding up, the county will receive help for the cleanup from federal and state dollars with the disaster declaration for this area for storms occurring from May 19-31.
    FEMA is expected to pay about 80 percent of the clean up costs, the state of Oklahoma about 12.5 percent, and the county the remaining 7.5 percent, she said.
    Before the contractors began their work, a lot of debris was initially removed in some areas thanks to ODOT along with countless volunteers and other organizations providing that service as a way to help.
    Connie Greenlee, like many Shawnee and Bethel area residents affected by the tornadoes, said she was ready for everyday life to get back to normal when the debris removal first began. She said it was good to see the reminder of all the devastation being hauled away.
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