Storm Cleanup Efforts Underway

Monday, March 12th 2007, 8:33 pm
By: News On 6

The city of McAlester has finally begun to clean up the thousands of pounds of debris left over from January's ice storm. City officials say an abundance of FEMA paperwork contributed to the delay. But The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports now that the debris is actually being removed everyone is looking forward to getting back to normal.

For two months, Ann Hundley's front lawn has remained littered with tree limbs, remnants of the ice storm that wreaked havoc on much of McAlester. On Monday morning, she was one of the first residents in town to have her debris hauled away.

"I felt real lucky to get ours done today, because it's the first day they are doing it," said Hadley.

Monday was the first day of what will be a lengthy cleanup. McAlester curbsides are still filled with an estimated 12,000 tons of tree limbs and other debris. There is so much debris left over from the ice storm in January, McAlester officials say it could take up to 45 days to clean it up.

All the limbs will eventually be taken to the landfill west of town and burned. Assistant City Engineer Dave Medley is overseeing the project. He has broken up the city into eight different districts, each of which will be cleaned up in order, starting with number one, over the next month and a half. Medley says the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who is footing most of the bill for the pickups, has been helpful, but could have gotten the ball rolling sooner.

"They did the best they could, they had a lot of cities and counties to deal with,” said Medley. “They've been good to work with, but it's been a slow process."

A slow process that residents say they are glad to see is finally underway.

"Everybody wants to see all this gone, everybody's getting real disgusted," said McAlester resident LD McEwen.

City officials say awarding contracts also slowed down the cleanup process, since they had to award separate ones for debris removal, tree trimming and bulldozer work.