With February’s ice storm in Columbia County’s rearview mirror, the task of clearing the debris it left is still ongoing.
The process will end quicker and smoother now that someone County officials suspect of dumping other debris on the rights of way Stevens Creek Road has been stopped.
“Stevens Creek was just a hotbed,” said Pam Tucker, the County Emergency and Operations Division Director. It’s a main thoroughfare coming into the county. We really need to have it all cleaned up.”
With Masters Week around the corner, Tucker said crews are working hard to get the count’s main thoroughfares cleaned up. Now is the time county crews would be doing the annual “spring cleaning.”
Tucker said someone was putting debris along the roadside in the area that had already been cleared and someone was possibly calling the county to report that more debris needed to be picked up. It was frustrating, Tucker said, for the county contractor to have to return to the area in which they’ve already made two passes to pick up debris.
Columbia County sheriff’s deputies identified Sunday an out-of-state tree service contractor working in a yard and placing debris on the curb in front of the home. He was warned and told to make sure he had the proper business and/or peddler license and to remove the debris on Monday.
“We’re just tickled that they stopped the problem,” Tucker said.
Richmond County interim Deputy Administrator Steve Cassell said Richmond County has experienced similar problems, but said it isn’t a widespread problem. Most debris pick-up in Richmond County has been legitimate.
Tucker said the incident was isolated and only a few other complaints of illegal dumping were reported.
“Greater than 99 percent of our citizens followed the rules and did exactly what we asked them to do regarding where to put the debris and were so patient,” Tucker said.
It’s taken nearly two months and most areas of the county have been cleared with two passes of the contractor crews.
As of Monday, the crews have removed 533,136 cubic yards of debris and cut 13,051 “leaners,” broken trees or limbs hanging in or near the roadways. Of the 48 zones in the county, 27 have been completely cleared and the remaining 21 zones are nearly complete.
Cassell said contractors have cleared 601,000 cubic yards of debris as of Saturday and
“Boy there are making progress,” Tucker said. “We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on debris.”
Tucker said the finish of clean-up has but one more hurdle – Masters Week.
“Here’s where we hit the snag,” Tucker said. “We will probably not have them working next week.”
Tucker said many of the crews will have to vacate their hotel rooms, which are reserved for Masters guests, and they can only work in more rural areas trying to catch up.
She expects the clean-up to be complete the week after Masters Week, so she can file paperwork with FEMA and close the book on the ice storm. Debris left on roadside in both counties will be the homeowner’s responsibility to remove.