Ten weeks later; debris, on hold for pickup - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Ten weeks later; debris, on hold for pickup

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- What nature's wrath dropped in his mother's yard on Tarlton Street April 27, Robert Glenn had cut, stacked and packed, on the curb two days later.

It remains, ten weeks later.

"I wanted it up by the Fourth of July," says Glenn. "Family coming over, seeing the mess, you know."

The situation is no different on Delong, one street over.

"We've called (311) on numerous occasions," says Michael Bowling. "And every time we do call they tell us two to three weeks."

"I've called at least five times," says Glenn.

"You're starting to think they forgot or they just don't care," adds Bowling.

"Well, I can assure you that they're not forgotten," says Lee Norris, Chattanooga's Deputy Administrator of Public Works.

Norris says city crews and private contractors have picked up more than 36,000 cubic yards--or roughly 4.5 million pounds of trees and brush.

"We have made a big dent," says Norris. "We've gotten about 50 percent through the first pass (of neighborhoods)."

If you're among those Chattanoogans still waiting for pickup, Norris advises that you still report the debris. But, Public Works no longer will give firm, nor approximate dates for service.

That's why William Rice decided to save crews a trip by carting his debris to a landfill by himself. However, landfill operators refused the load.

"I got tired of looking at it!," says Rice.

To Rice, appearances aren't the worst of it.

"As it dries out in the summer's heat, we don't want it to become a fire hazard," says Bowling.

"Snakes, rodents, bugs coming from it," adds neighbor Doris Read.

"We have small children and we don't want them to be cut up or bitten," says Bowling.

"We're putting a lot of city resources to cleaning this up and we're moving as fast as we can," says Norris.

Several factors figure into the mix. Chattanooga is counting on FEMA to reimburse about 80 percent of the cleanup costs, Norris says. But that requires that contractors count how many hanging limbs are cut. Crews also have to clear drainage ditches and canals.

"Most everybody should get their first pickup by the end of the month," says Norris.

But Robert Glenn's patience and persistence have about given way.

"Just hurry up and come on," says Glenn.

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