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Macon-Bibb collects enough Irma debris to fill two Goodyear blimps

Irma debris collections rolling along in Macon-Bibb

Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency Director Spencer Hawkins describes the process being taken to collect Tropical Storm Irma debris. Since Oct. 12, more than 20,000 cubic yards has been picked up.
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Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency Director Spencer Hawkins describes the process being taken to collect Tropical Storm Irma debris. Since Oct. 12, more than 20,000 cubic yards has been picked up.

In the days after Tropical Storm Irma whipped through the midstate, about 900 tons of debris — the equivalent in weight of 450 midsized cars — was plucked from the streets of Macon-Bibb County.

But in recent over the four weeks, the attention has turned toward the larger piles of tree trunks, limbs and other yard debris knocked over on residential and business properties. The collection of debris picked up from Oct 12 to Saturday topped more than 20,475 cubic yards — almost enough to fill two Goodyear blimps and two hot-air balloons.

The county used a combination of what Macon-Bibb workers saw while they were out in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 storm and reports from residents themselves to determine the hardest hit neighborhoods: Shirley Hills, the Ingleside/Ridge Avenue area and south Macon’s Bloomfield neighborhood.

The pickups continue in those neighborhoods and then will move to other areas until all of the debris has been collected, county officials said Monday.

The county is using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to update collections, but pickups could happen in some neighborhoods more quickly than anticipated, so county officials are urging residents not to tarry in getting their limbs and branches put out at the curb.

“We say go ahead and get it out there,” county spokesman Chris Floore said about moving debris. “We certainly wouldn’t want anyone missed because they think they’re not coming until next week but crews get ahead” of schedule.

If someone sees that a neighboring street’s debris has been cleared but theirs hasn’t yet, they should contact the county’s Solid Waste Department just in case.

Macon-Bibb has contracted with Southern Disaster Recovery for Irma debris collection and hired a debris monitor as part of the process, required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It’s still to early to know when debris collection will be finished or how much the disaster recovery efforts will cost the county. But there is a cost formula: 75 percent of cleanup costs will be covered by FEMA, and the remaining 25 percent will be split evenly between the state and Macon-Bibb government, county EMA Director Spencer Hawkins said.

Because there were several other natural disasters that hit the United States and Puerto Rico in recent months, it may take longer than usual for Macon-Bibb to recoup its expenses. Macon-Bibb officials are meeting with FEMA representatives in the coming days to discuss the process, Hawkins said.

“Their goal is to get us reimbursed as quickly as possible, so we’ll work with them hand in hand to make that happen,” he said.

The debris is being taken to property located next to the county’s main landfill on Walker Road and on a Fulton Mill Road site. The county also continues picking up the smaller piles of yard debris during its normal garbage and recycling collection routes, Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley said.

And county officials say that although the collection process is going well, those still waiting for their debris to be removed want it gone more swiftly.

“Now that it’s fully running, it’s going very smoothly,” Floore said. “But we certainly understand (not everyone) is going to be fully happy until all of it’s picked up.”

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph

DEBRIS REMOVAL TIPS

▪ All trunks, limbs and branches must be cut to 4 feet or less.

▪ Tree trunks must be placed in their own pile.

▪ Put leaves and pine straw in their own bags or trash cans.

▪ Do not bring debris to the Walker Road landfill.

▪ All branches and limbs must be placed in their own pile.

▪ Do not mix debris with other solid waste.

▪ Place building materials in a separate pile.

▪ Do not burn debris.

Source: Macon-Bibb County

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