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Keeping An Eye On Debris Removal

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The City of Tulsa has spent over a million dollars dealing with the debris from the December ice storm. And, city leaders say it will cost much more. Based on what's been picked up, so far, the cost could get higher than first projected. The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports there is someone watching to make sure it's money well spent.

You might have wondered if you've seen the big trucks on your street why a person follows behind watching the work. There is an answer. They're working for you to make sure the job is done to government specifications.

Matt Burton seems to be an expert at handling the mechanical grappler that picks up limbs. Even though he's been doing it for years, he's got someone looking over his work. A contract monitor follows his truck, watching him work.

"They're afraid we're going to get brush from somewhere else I guess," said truck driver Matt Burton.

The monitors work for a contractor, who works for the city and ultimately, the federal government which is paying most of the bill. The inspectors on the job didn't want The News On 6 taking pictures and showing what they do, but the city says it's a vital job.

The cleanup is costing the city $3 million for the limb removal, and $1.6 million for the monitors. Right now, that's paying for the work of 96 trucks and 92 inspectors. The monitors function as the city's watchdog and ensure that only storm debris is loaded into trucks, they confirm the trucks work in their assigned area and verify they're fully loaded & emptied.

Other monitors work at the dump site, checking the trucks as they come in and leave. The city wants to make sure they're loaded only with storm debris because anything else could make jeopardize the payment from the feds.

"There's a tower, you go underneath it and they give you a score and you dump and then you go underneath a tower that makes sure it's empty," said truck driver Matt Burton.

While the city pays people to watch the work, every truck has plenty of amateur monitors, the people who are eager to see the limbs go.

"I think they're doing a good job, but it's just going to take time to do it," said Tulsan Kenneth Gumm.

That $3 million figure for the cleanup isn't firm. It's an estimate based on the amount of storm debris. The city believes it will cost much more because the actual amount of debris seems to be far more than anyone estimated.

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