Cleanup of April 27 storm damage progresses, but work remains
by Laura Johnson
Star Staff Writer
Aug 08, 2011 | 2167 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Frank Norton looks at what’s left of a storage building that was damaged during April’s tornado in Ohatchee. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
Frank Norton looks at what’s left of a storage building that was damaged during April’s tornado in Ohatchee. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
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Calhoun County has been cleared of most of the debris from April’s tornadoes that the federal government has agreed to remove, county officials said Friday.

As of Friday, about 90 percent of debris left on rights of way had been removed and 85 percent of debris had been removed from private property included in Operation Clean Sweep, a separate federal program. But more work remains.

Calhoun County, which is directing the cleanup locally, has not begun to clear debris from area rivers and streams and only this week began helping clear private property that the federal government hasn’t agreed to pay for.

“We got to the hardest-hit areas first, but there is still significant damage out there,” said Lee Helms, who is managing the effort for the county.

The county has submitted and is waiting for word on a federal program that would help pay to clear the rivers and streams. And the county recently authorized local money to help clear private property that was damaged but not part of Clean Sweep.

According to Alabama EMA, more than 92 percent of the estimated 10 million cubic yards of debris has been removed from rights of ways and private property across the state.

Calhoun County Commissioner Rudy Abbott said the process is moving along as he would expect in his district.

“About once or twice a week I get out and I ride through my district to check on the storm recovery process. Everywhere I go I see evidence that things have gotten back to normal as far as moving debris,” Abbott said. “If the phone is ringing, we got problems, and if the phone is not ringing, we’re doing pretty good.”

His comments were echoed by Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson, who said the county’s effort to help residents who weren’t eligible for federal aid offered significant aid to people in his district.

“I think we went above and beyond in trying to help the people that have been affected,” Henderson said.

Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544.
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