Climbing Cost Of Ice Storm Cleanup

Monday, February 12th 2007, 9:31 pm
By: News On 6

A month has passed since the devastating ice storm in Oklahoma, and there are estimates it will take another couple of months to clear all the debris. Muskogee was one of the hardest hit areas, News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports if you put all the debris collected so far in Muskogee together in one place, it would spread out to more than 93 acres. And there is still much more to be picked up.

Even on a rainy day, the work doesn't slow down much in Muskogee. One after another, around 200 trucks a day will drop off their loads of trees toppled and branches broken by the January ice storm. Several areas around town have become dumpsites for the debris, contractors dump the broken branches then they’re burned. Driver Adam Hall had made 30 deliveries on Monday, and there will be many more.

"They've been a lot of long hard days,” said truck driver Adam Hall. “We haul it by the yard and it's just going to take a while."

The contractors are from all over the country, and area residents are glad to get the helping hand. Day after day, for 30 days, people across Muskogee have worked to recover.

"If they can get it to the curb line, to the public right of way, then we'll have these contractors come by and pick it up for them," Mike Stewart with the City of Muskogee said.

While workers continue to clean up the enormous amount of debris from that January ice storm, the cost continues to add up too. So far, the price tag for debris removal in Muskogee County alone is $3.6 million. Cleanup costs are also above three million dollars in Pittsburgh and McIntosh Counties. The Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management says debris removal expenses are also piling up for other counties in Eastern Oklahoma. The costs will get much higher because there is still so much work to be done, work that could take six to eight more weeks.

"It's unreal what people are going through," Hall said.

The city of Muskogee has four sites for residents to drop off their storm debris; they are the former Budweiser plant on Beacon Street, Robinson Park on Gulik Street, Hatbox Sports Complex off of 40th Street and Rooney Park off of Martin Luther King. The drop-off sites will be open from daylight until dark and on weekends. They will only accept limbs and yard debris, no trash or plastic bags.

It’s more than Muskogee, Pittsburgh and McIntosh Counties footing a big cleanup bill; here’s a list of what other counties around Oklahoma will pay to get rid of all the storm debris.

Adair $11,522
Cherokee $126,903
Craig $46,484
Delaware $1,492,629
Haskell $174,798
Latimer $112,500
Mayes $697,255
McIntosh $3,027,726
Muskogee $3,608,633
Okfuskee $17,235
Okmulgee $224,051
Ottawa $162,693
Pittsburg $3,043,570
Sequoyah $29,133
Wagoner $212,235