Some Augusta commissioners representing the county’s south side were disappointed to learn that their neighborhoods will be last on the list for the tree debris removal this week.
According to the city’s interim Deputy Administrator Steve Cassell, the city’s contractor began working on the final stages of debris removal this past Monday.
“We are starting at the Savannah River and sweeping south,” Cassell said. “We are going to hit every street and every roadway.”
During this time, the contractor will be deploying “tremendous resources” throughout the county in order to clear all roadways of tree debris by March 31, Cassell said.
Once the crews remove the debris from a street, Cassell explained the city’s monitoring contractor will perform an inspection by a quality assurance supervisor to ensure the street is clean and it can be officially closed out.
“At the beginning of next week, if you are still getting complaints about people not having anything removed, that would be the time to call us,” Cassell told commissioners during the March 24 public service committee.
However, Cassell warned commissioners that some of the smaller, loose piles of debris may not be collected by the large contractor equipment. Therefore, residents should place those smaller materials into brown yard bags that will be picked up by the city’s normal solid waste collection, he said.
Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason was skeptical that the city could keep the deadline of clearing all of the streets of debris by March 31.
“Every street?” Mason asked Cassell. “You are telling me in a week every street will be swept that hasn’t been done in six weeks?”
Cassell assured Mason that was the case.
“I have some real concerns, as you well know, because there are areas that haven’t been touched once, let alone a final time,” Mason said. “So, I have got some real concerns about those areas and whether or not the pick up will happen. I certainly hope it does because that stuff has been sitting out and it has all turned brown and all kinds of colors now, it has been sitting out there so long. So, I’m trying to grasp the idea of getting to every street in a week that haven’t been got to in six week.”
After pondering the contractor’s timeline for a few minutes, Mason then asked Cassell to repeat the debris removal’s route again.
“You are starting at what end and going to what end?” Mason asked.
“We are starting at the Savannah River and coming down,” Cassell replied.
Mason immediately began shaking his head.
“So that means south Augusta is towards the end piece of that,” he said. “Of course, you fully realize that many portions of that southern end hadn’t gotten even one sweep.”
Cassell told Mason and his fellow colleagues in south Augusta that those areas will be cleaned of debris as well.
“They will get it,” Cassell said.
“Yeah, I just don’t like the way they are getting it,” Mason replied. “I think what I’m going to do is I’m going to give you my cell phone so you can take all those calls that I’m going to get.”
Cassell said he had no problem accepting any calls from concerned citizens about the tree debris removal plan.
Before the words even left Cassell’s mouth, Augusta Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he recently received a call from a resident in Goshen who was irate.
“He was using words that I can’t say right now,” Guilfoyle said. “He could not figure out why the trash trucks were picking up everyone’s debris around him but left his.”
There could be several reasons, Cassell explained, such as his debris pile could be stacked too close to a parked car or up against a decorative fence. Also, in some cases, power lines were interfering in the trucks’ ability to remove some of the debris, he said.
While the cleanup has been tedious for the entire city, Cassell assured commissioners that the end was near.
As of late last week, the city — apparently in the spirit of the upcoming Masters Week — reported that 462,482 cubic yards of debris had been collected in Augusta which equated to 156,359,131,826 golf tees or 8,700,629,110 golf balls.
Only in Augusta.
For more information about the debris removal, visit augustaga.gov/1885/2014-ice-storm-management.