Hurricane Matthew downed thousands of trees in the city of Florence, many of which remain piled in yards, along roadways and sidewalks, and residents are wondering how long it will take to clean up.
On Thursday, city officials announced their plan to tackle the more than 150,000 cubic yards of debris in the city, with a goal of returning to a normal schedule by the start of 2017.
They have divided the city into six sections, four of which will be handled by contracted debris cleanup crews. Officials say cleanup should be in full swing by mid-November.
“In the areas that have the largest amount of debris, we’re going to use contract work for those areas,” said City Manager Drew Griffin. “We’re trying to get bid proposals out by [Friday] or Monday, and give contractors about two weeks to submit a bid, then we will choose a contractor or multiple contractors.”
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Griffin said city debris crews have been running routes but the sheer volume of debris– about four years’ worth of normal waste --is too much to handle.
For right now, debris crew are focusing on vegetative debris – meaning trees, limbs, leaves and other types of shrubbery. To make cleanup go faster, officials ask residents to avoid mixing debris types.
Officials estimate the total cleanup cost will be $2 million. If Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines are properly followed the city will pay about 25 percent of that cost.
Griffin said residents may see crews skipping over certain piles of waste or handling waste in varying intervals. He said the FEMA rules for waste pickup are extensive and must be followed closely for the city to receive the aid.
“If we do not follow the rules, what happens is FEMA may reject our reimbursement. The rules are reasonable, somewhat complicated but they’re there to prevent fraud. Two million dollars is significant for the city.”
Officials said debris on commercial property will not be handled during this time, since FEMA dictates insurance claims should cover those types of cleanups.
Any contractor wishing to be a part of the city’s bid process should contact the Florence purchasing agent, Linwood Givens, at 843-665-3162.
Griffin said all water mains that were broken during Hurricane Matthew have been repaired, and all city residents have normal water services.
“We were able to temporarily repair some of those line and the others have been valved off,” he said. “Our engineering teams are working on it. Some of it is still on a temporary basis but we’re working on it.”
Those repairs are expected to cost between $200,000 and $300,000.