County officials said vegetative debris removal could begin in tornado-stricken areas by May 12 after federal disaster assistance was announced Saturday.
The EF3 twisters from April 28 destroyed at least 169 homes in Limestone County and caused major damage to 102 other residences, said county Emergency Management Agency Director Rita White.
With three primary options to remove debris, including bidding out contracts or using county workers, County Engineer Richard Sanders said he believed using standing contractors through the Association of County Commissions of Alabama would be the most effective decision.
“If we used a standing debris contractor, we can start the planning process within 24 hours and can pick up debris within a week,” he said.
The County Commission approved Monday contracting with Crowder Gulf in Theodore to remove debris and Florida-based Leidos to monitor the removal process.
Sanders estimated the cost of debris removal will be $12 to $15 per cubic yard, including pickup expenses and oversight.
Aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency decreases as time elapses from the date of a disaster, which causes a sense of urgency to begin removal.
“The FEMA reimbursement is 85 percent within 30 days (of a disaster), then 80 percent 30 to 60 days and 75 percent after 60 days,” he said. “The faster we get underway, the better off we’ll be.”
Debris removal is estimated to cost $450,000 for the county before FEMA reimbursements, according to figures provided by the Limestone EMA.
Officials are asking county residents to stack debris on the backside of ditches, away from the road. Debris should not be placed in ditches or on the shoulders of the road.
Pending a decision from state officials, disposal of construction and other man-made debris will be the responsibility of the property owner and should be disposed of by transporting it to a landfill or by placing it in roll-off containers or containers provided by disposal companies.
White goods, such as appliances and propane tanks, and household hazardous waste should be separated and disposed of by the homeowner.
Property owners also are advised to check insurance polices for debris removal coverage.