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Debris is piling up: Over 60,000 cubic yards of limbs already hauled away

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Emily McIntosh

Staff Writer

It has been two months since the first day of the ice storm, and some people are still trying to clean up their yards.

"Right now, we've hauled about 60,000 cubic yards of debris," Fulton County Judge Charles Willett said. That amount is just for the county and does not count cities that are doing their own cleanup, he said.

"I don't think we'll make the six month deadline (set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA)," Judge Willett said. "We may have to file for an extension, because right now we've probably got 125 miles of our roads completed. We've got it (Fulton County) all divided up into eight different crews with probably 10 man crews taking care of different sections."

He said the crews have been cutting down all the leaning and split trees and all hanging branches. "It's just a slow process," Judge Willett said. "There's a lot of work. We're probably hauling 115 to 120 loads of debris every day going to a staging area, and that's not counting the cities in our area. This is strictly county."

As many Fulton County residents know, on most county roads downed and snapped trees, along with hanging limbs and branches, line these roads, not to mention all the pot holes created by melting ice and utility vehicles and other vehicles going over muddy, dirt roads.

"Obviously, it's a very slow process. It (the ice storm) affected our road infrastructure getting them rough, and we can't blade (send the road grader) down for all the brush. As we get a road clean, we'll try to get it bladed and try to get it back to half-way decent shape again, but I just hope everybody will be patient," Judge Willett said.

He said the staging areas have as much as 8,000 to 60,000 cubic yards of debris piled up. The staging area that just opened up on Nine Mile Ridge already has about 5,000 cubic yards gathered up, according to Judge Willett.

He said all of the debris is being chipped. In the previous Fulton County Quorum Court meeting, Judge Willett said the county is looking at various places such as landfills and paper mills to recycle the material. In the meantime, Judge Willet said anyone in the county who wants chipped debris to use as mulch in their yards is welcome to go to a dumping site and ask for some.

Although Fulton County received a little bit of rain over the weekend, that does not mean it is O.K. to burn debris. Large piles of burning debris can get out of control fairly easily. Since the ice storm, Judge Willett has had to periodically place burn bans on the county. The latest one was March 23.

There are residents who still do not have their yards clean. These people can pile all the debris from their yards into the ditch by the roadside and the county will pick it up when crews are able to get to it. As for farmers, all debris pickup done by the county is strictly debris that is from the front and back yards of the residence not debris gathered from the field.

"We will be setting a deadline for everybody in our county to have their yards clean and (debris) out next to the road for us to pick up," Willett said.

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