Debris removal ongoing
Published 12:47 am Friday, September 16, 2011
State-contracted crews are continuing the removal of vegetative debris left behind in Beaufort County by Hurricane Irene.
This work likely will continue for some time to come, said Jim Chrisman, assistant county manager and finance officer.
“There’s no time limit,” Chrisman said, adding the N.C. Department of Transportation has no end date for roadside debris pickup.
A previous deadline for the end of the process already had been extended, he said.
The removal process could go on for two, perhaps three more weeks, given the volume of limbs and trees brought down by Irene, Chrisman pointed out.
DOT likely will issue a news release announcing the end of debris removal 10 days before it closes, he said.
Still, county residents who haven’t moved their limbs to state-maintained roadsides should do so as quickly as possible, Chrisman said.
People who have questions about this process should call the county manager’s office at 252-946-0079.
The county is putting together a request for proposals calling on contractors to solicit bids for the removal of construction and demolition debris from the storm, Chrisman related.
Currently, the only two local sites accepting construction and demolition debris are the county-tied Waste Industries transfer station off Flanders Filters Road west of Washington and EJE Recycling, a privately owned site located across the county line, off U.S. Highway 264 in Pitt County, Chrisman said.
Individual Beaufort County residents who need to dispose of construction and demolition waste may do so free of charge at the site on Flanders Filters Road, he said. The fee for residents has been waived at this site.
Contractors still will be charged, Chrisman said.
He acknowledged there had been numerous inquiries about debris pickup from homeowners who reside on privately maintained roads.
“There’s been a lot of questions from residents on our border (with Pamlico County) who are members of a homeowners association or in a private area who are seeking assistance with that,” Chrisman said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency won’t reimburse the county for expenditures incurred through debris removal on private property or roads that aren’t state-maintained, he said.
Historically, Beaufort County hasn’t picked up debris on private roads after past storms, according to Chrisman.
Chrisman said he is personally aware of people in the Aurora-Edward area who need FEMA assistance but were denied that assistance.
A number of these residents may have been denied FEMA aid because they received loan-application packets from the U.S. Small Business Administration but failed to fill out the loan applications, he said.
“That is a loan packet and people are tossing that packet in the trash because they’re saying, ‘I don’t want a loan, I want to apply for assistance only,’” Chrisman said.
Residents who receive these packets need to fill out the paperwork and turn the packets in to the SBA, he said.
Chrisman’s concern was echoed by John Pack, Beaufort County’s emergency management coordinator.
“It’s loan paperwork, yes, but if they don’t complete the SBA package it does not complete that one gate of the six or seven you’ve got to go through to get assistance,” Pack said.
“This is a big problem that we tend to have,” said Renee Bafalis, a spokeswoman for FEMA.
Some storm victims who don’t initially qualify for FEMA assistance may be eligible for SBA loans, Bafalis said. By filling out the application and returning it, the victims can keep the process open and move forward, possibly getting access to grants through the state or FEMA, she said.
Victims who aren’t approved right away also have an opportunity for appeal through the temporary Disaster Recovery Center opened by FEMA in the Mid-Atlantic Safety Council building, next to Woogie’s restaurant, off U.S. Highway 17 in Chocowinity, the officials said.
The center is open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Sundays.
Storm victims who haven’t registered with FEMA are asked to do so before visiting the center. For more information, call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or visit www.fema.gov.
To date, 2,863 Beaufort County households or individuals have applied for FEMA assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irene, a FEMA news release reads.
Countywide damage assessments involving state, local and federal agencies still hadn’t been completed as of Thursday afternoon.
“The debris – we’re really having trouble wrapping our hands around the amount of debris because it’s everywhere,” Pack said.