Storm Cleanup

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wet ground, OK from state delay pickup of storm debris

By Billy Davis
and John Howell Sr.

A cleanup of tree limbs and debris in Batesville, which was planned to begin Monday, has been delayed because wet ground has limited access to the town’s debris dump, Mayor Jerry Autrey said.

City workmen and equipment had been scheduled to begin removing debris from curbsides to assist in cleanup from last Wednesday’s storm.

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A high wind toppled trees and broke away limbs in areas throughout the city, hitting especially hard the Court, Bates, Church and East Street areas at the heart of town.

“Everybody get as much as you can close to the curb; the more you can get to the curb, the quicker we can get it out of the way,” Autrey said last week.

Assistance will be available when limbs are too large to be dragged to curbside, the mayor added.

In a related matter, Panola County government hopes to secure a dumpsite this week for tree and debris removal.

But approval of the site is pending from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The site can be used only for trees and other vegetation.

“No lumber or shingles or they’ll fine us,” said Panola County EMA director Daniel Cole.

“No couches or refrigerators either,” added road manager Lygunnah Bean.

Bean advised supervisors that a property owner has said he will allow his property to be used by the county, the City of Batesville, and the Miss. Department of Transportation.

“He asked for a one-time fee of $2,500. That’s a bargain for us,” Bean said. The alternative plan would be repeated trips to a Marks site, he said.

The property owner, who was present at Monday’s county meeting, asked The Panolian to withhold his name until MDEQ approves the site.

The board of supervisors agreed that property owners should move trees and other debris to the right-of-way for pickup. Debris located on private property will not be removed.

They board set a deadline of June 15 for debris removal.

Bean said debris removal would begin southeast of Batesville in District 4, site of the worst damage outside of Batesville. 

In and around Batesville, a survey of storm damage found 196 homes had sustained at least some damage, Cole said. Twenty-two homes received major damage or were completely destroyed.

In Batesville, city workers will use boom-mounted power lifting equipment to lift limbs and debris and place them into city dump trucks for removal.

The City of Senatobia has loaned a smaller boom truck to augment a large, knuckle-boom, which is capable of lifting larger pieces, Autrey said.

The booms will lift the debris and place it into city dump trucks, but until the access to the dump dries, the cleanup work must be delayed, the mayor said.

Unofficial measurements have recorded an additional four inches or more of rainfall on the city during the five days since four inches fell during Wednesday’s storm.

Pending Monday is a decision by the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee District on the city’s request for loan of its wood chipper, Mayor Autrey said. The large wood chipper is capable of grinding large tree pieces into wood chips, he said.

The levee board’s wood chipper is apparently a popular item: supervisors on Monday said they hope to acquire it for temporary use.