Months after a tornado destroyed homes and businesses in Beavercreek, a tree company was still hauling away debris piled up along the city’s residential curbs.
Bunyan Tree Inc.’s trucks patrolled daily, carrying away loads full of sticks, shrubs and cut-up portions of the mature trees that once provided shade and aesthetics for the well-established neighborhoods around Grange Hall and Kemp roads.
The brush was piled up into small mountains of organic material stored at Cemex Reserve Park in Fairborn and Greene County Environmental Services in Xenia.
The total amount estimated by FEMA for each pile is 80,000 cubic yards, said Dana Doll, environmental services manager.
For perspective, each pile is comparable to a stack of 800 semi-tractor trailers.
“The most important part was helping the residents immediately after the tornado. That was the priority,” Doll said.
Now, the city and township of Beavercreek and Greene County are entering into a joint agreement with Pennsylvania-based Beeghly Tree LLC to grind up that material, turn it into mulch and haul it away for good.
Beavercreek’s portion of the costs is not to exceed $600,000, according to the resolution City Council approved last week.
Beeghly was awarded as the lowest and best bidder during the second round of bids the city solicited and received. The city nullified the first round of bids because of concerns about complying with Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines for reimbursement.
City Manager Pete Landrum said they were pleased the bids came in lower following what turned out to be a “quiet hurricane season.”
“Since the hurricane season was quiet, we’re benefiting from it,” Landrum said. “We were really worried about it when we had to rebid. Our stuff would have been child’s play if a big hurricane came through.”
Beavercreek’s “stuff” is the majority of the mountains of debris, which have been kept in four separate piles representing the city’s portion, the township’s, and the quantities delivered or managed by the Greene County Engineer’s Office and Greene County Environmental Services.
Each entity will share in the costs of the overall contract, which officials said is expected to be around $1 million.
Doll said she sees the piles as “beautiful” because they are “single-stream material” collected and delivered by all the residents, municipalities and volunteers who helped clean up after the storm.
“We have the luxury in Greene County to make sure we do it right, to process these materials in a way that makes sense.” Doll said.
The contract is under review by the prosecutor’s office, which is routine, and commissioners will then be asked to enter into the agreement, according to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson.
The estimated rate to process the piles and haul it away is about $9 per cubic yard, Huddleson said.
“Each one of those loads will be monitored as they go out and will be charged based on the actual quantities that are removed,” Huddleson said. “We anticipate once they start work, it ought to be done within 90 days.”
The record-breaking tornado outbreak on Memorial Day included 15 that hit the Miami Valley region.
The EF 3 tornado that ripped through the northern portion of Beavercrek and proceeded into other parts of Greene County destroyed a total of 86 homes and businesses; majorly damaged 206 buildings; 395 sustained minor damages; and 756 were affected, according to county records.
The total costs to the city of Beavercreek in responding and cleaning up after the storm are estimated at more than $3 million. It has put a budgetary strain on the city, the largest in the state of Ohio that doesn’t collect an income tax. Beavercreek’s funding comes from individual levies that voters have passed for specific purposes, such as supporting police, streets and parks services.
Local governments are working with FEMA to get reimbursed, but recovering expenditures during the state of disaster is feared to be one to two years away.
There’s still help available to residents and businesses that were impacted by the tornado.
The United Way’s 211 HelpLink number will connect survivors to special operators who can complete an assessment and offer one-on-one case management assistance.
Landrum said only five cases were ever started through United Way from residents in Beavercreek, and he fears that’s because of “pride.”
“A lot of people have that pride, ‘well, other people need it more than we do,” he said. “It’s time for them to understand it’s their turn. Call the 211 line. Ask questions. They can put you in direct help. They can tell you what different help is out there from different agencies.
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