Debris removal running smoothly

A truck filled with tornado debris arrives at a disposal site in the Pike County Industrial Park.

Debris clean up is going smoothly in McComb, with the city board getting an update from the city’s Public Works head and an engineering firm on Tuesday.

Public Works Director Alice Barnes and Neel-Schaffer client manager Keith Lott detailed the progress and the first payment to the debris cleaners to selectmen.

“I’ve ridden the area. I’ve seen the northeast part of town and some of the northwest parts of town,” Barnes said. “I haven’t ridden everywhere. I don’t know all of the locations, but I see progress. I know Veterans looks good.”

The storm, which hit on April 23, damaged homes and felled trees across the city, with neighborhoods including the Reservation and Edgewood taking the brunt of the damage.

The storm left much of the city without power for almost two days. Prominent roads like Veterans Boulevard and Delaware Avenue Extension were covered in debris and unpassable.

Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said he is happy to hear the work is progressing smoothly, adding that he has gotten nothing but positive feedback on the cleanup process.

“I’ve received calls from citizens as it relates to the pickup,” Lockley said. “They are very glad to see them out there, and some even have made positive comments as it relates to the quality of work that they are doing.”

The city previously worried about not qualifying for federal assistance that would reimburse the city and Pike County 75% of all cleanup costs, but with the state reaching its $4.5 million damage threshold and the county meeting its $155,000 threshold, McComb is poised for the badly needed reimbursement.

“We didn’t have the equipment or the manpower to do it, but being able to contract it out and now know that we are going to be reimbursed 75% is a big plus,” Lockley said.

Lott said the cleanup crews have made great progress, but rain slowed them down the past few days. He said they could not dump debris at a disposal site in the county’s industrial park.

“Patience is the big word,” Lott said. “Be patient. The last three days we’ve not been able to get into the dumpsite because of all of the rain. They actually had to build a road to get in, so please tell them to please be patient. We are going to get there.”

Selectman Ronnie Brock asked Lott and Barnes if the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the area helping residents. Lott said he does not believe so.

The city had to pay its first installment to Land Company Development Inc. for the debris removal for $123,941.

Barnes said Wednesday she does not know how many payments the city will have to make before the cleanup is completed, but noted that a May 2019 tornado that hit roughly the same areas required six payments.

“We will definitely have more than one (payment), but I don’t know how many yet,” she said.

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