Hurricane debris still problematic

Published 7:43 pm Monday, October 3, 2005

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Nearly three months has passed since Hurricane Dennis impacted this area and hurricane debris is still crowding right-of-ways causing a second go-round for debris pick-up, and rather than the Federal Emergency Management Agency footing the bill, the city of Brewton will have to shell out nearly $30,000 of its own money for the clean-up process.
During a Brewton City Council meeting two weeks ago, Mayor Ted Jennings announced that the final pass for debris pick-up from Hurricane Dennis was set for Sept. 19. Advance Construction was hired by the city, and FEMA's estimated cost for the debris pick-up was set at $29,800. The cost was accepted by FEMA and for 100 percent reimbursement the cost was split into three ways. The state paid 15 percent of the costs while the city paid 10 percent and the federal government paid 75 percent.
After the final round of clean-up in September, the Alco community was still left with a bulk of a mess that has been sitting on curbs since Hurricane Dennis impacted the area in early-July. City officials believe that the untouched debris was a combination of FEMA's underestimate and "people putting more debris out on the curbs" after the area felt remnants of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
When city officials notified FEMA of the untouched debris, they said that FEMA would not consider footing the bill without a complete bid process and another assessment of debris, which typically lasts several months. City officials were afraid that if they waited to bid out the project in its entirety, there wouldn't be any available contractors.
Currently, contractors have been rushing to neighboring cities in Mississippi and Louisiana to clean-up debris hurricanes Katrina and Rita left behind.
Originally, city officials were going to try and hold Advance Construction back until a full scope of the work was conducted, but then the piled up debris became a "semi-emergency," City Clerk John Angel said, because if the debris sits there for quite some time it can eventually become a threat to the health and become a danger to residents in debris-ridden communities.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, the council and mayor approved to appropriate funds so the debris could be picked up immediately. The cost for the second round of debris pick-up was estimated at $27,000, and Angel said the contractors was set to begin cleaning this week.
In other city news, Francis C. Hayes submitted his resignation Tuesday night as director and chairman of the Brewton Water Board. Hayes stated that due to his failing health, he would no longer be able to maintain his status as director and chairman of the Brewton Water Board. Hayes has served on the Water Board for 56 years.
Jennings said Tuesday night that Hayes was "truly a dedicated public servant to and for this city."
A workshop will be held at City hall to discuss the smoking ordinance committee members have been discussing for several months.
According to Councilwoman Ann Marie Sasser, a member of the committee, an outline has been prepared to consider and they will "hash out the particulars" during the workshop.
The committee is usingcopies of ordinances from other municipalities and a model that discusses several options, including what might type of guidelines will be established for food and restaurant establishments, what other public areas would be affected by the ordinance, a reasonable distance smoking will or will not be allowed near public buildings, penalties for violating the ordinance and procedures for enforcing the new ordinance.
The public workshop will be held on Oct. 11 at 3:30 p.m.

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