City talks hurricane debris cleanup costs

Debris remains on city roads, like this pile at Old Orrville Road and Pinehaardt.

The Selma Public Works Committee met Thursday afternoon to set plans to remove piles of debris left over from Hurricane Zeta and warned it could take months and cost millions to complete.

The city’s public works department is currently doing all the cleanup on city property and right of way, but Mayor James Perkins Jr. told the committee there are not enough employees, the city’s landfill is too small and the city doesn’t own enough equipment to get the job done in less than three months.

Perkins suggested the committee recommend the City Council contract with an emergency debris removal company that could bring equipment and people and have the debris moved in weeks instead of months. These contractors also have permits needed to burn debris instead of hauling it to the city landfill that can’t take on the amount.

The committee, led by new City Councilman Clay Carmichael and attended by Council members Atkins Jemison and Jannie Thomas, heard options from Perkins and city department heads and will make a recommendation.

It could cost more than $1 million for debris removal and repairs to sidewalks, but the city needs President Trump to declare Alabama and Dallas County a federal disaster to ensure reimbursement of 75 percent of the costs from FEMA and another up to 12.5 percent from the state.

In anticipation of the declaration, city officials said they are documenting everything, including where debris is located and where it is taken in preparation for FEMA reports.

Perkins said they are looking to put out a bid for contractors in the next week and close it quickly to move forward with hiring a company to do the cleanup. The emergency debris cleanup companies respond within 24 hours of being hired and could be on the ground working in the next 10 days.

Councilwoman Jannie Thomas said the contracts need to be specific of what would be accomplished.

The city’s insurance adjuster came to Selma on Monday and Tuesday to identify repairs to city property that needs made. The debris removal crew would handle trees and other debris on city property and right of way.

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