City contracts extra help for storm debris removal
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Since the April 27th tornadoes the City of Chattanooga has been overwhelmed by calls for debris pick-up, 12,000 by mid June. That's why city council contracted extra help.
Fifteen extra collection crews are now sweeping the city. They're contracted to blitz in sections, picking up debris throughout the entire city twice before they're done.
"It was pretty massive," says Chattanooga resident Alphonzo Smith.
Monday, Smith finally got what he's waited on for two months when a debris truck removed the brush in front of his Glenwood Drive home.
"It was a big tree," says Smith. "It fell on the house, so we cut it up ourselves."
Like so many others in the Tennessee Valley, Smith had a lot of yard work to do after April's storm outbreak. He piled brush on the edge of his street quickly, only to watch it sit there.
"It sat there and dried up," says Smith, describing the pile. "It started to look like a big ash tray."
Up the road, piles of debris outside Smith's neighbors' homes are still baking in the hot sun. The City of Chattanooga finally had to seek outside help.
"We've employed a debris removal contractor," says Sanitation Manager Justin Holland. "Those crews are working along side the city crews."
Holland says the extra help is much needed relief for his crews who've worked six days a week since late April.
"The contractors are currently working in the east Chattanooga and Brainerd areas," says Holland.
The city now has 25 collection crews on the ground each day. This is enough personnel to blitz the city in sections, instead of routing trucks by call volume.
"All of your debris needs to be as close to the roadway as possible," says Holland.
Although Alphonzo Smith had to stare at his ugly brush pile longer than expected, he says he's just glad it's gone.
"When I realized how bad the storms were I figured it would probably take a while," says Smith. "As long as it's gone now it's fine."
The contracted company is called True North Emergency Services. They don't have a specific deadline, but will cover the entire city twice in the next few weeks. It'll cost the city an estimated $500,000 for which FEMA should pay 87 percent.