The city of Beavercreek has spent more than $1 million in public services after the May 27 tornado, and as the costs continue to mount, concerns are being raised about construction debris removal.
The city on Wednesday submitted a request for public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency after estimating the costs so far to pay for overtime, fuel, equipment and other expenditures at $1.2 million.
City Manager Pete Landrum said that estimate doesn’t include the “straight time” hours that public service workers have devoted to the tornado recovery for the past three weeks.
“This week is the first time that staff is getting back to normal hours, but most are still focused on the impacted areas,” Landrum said.
Greene County will have a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center opening on June 26, and the location will be announced once FEMA does site inspection, according to Greene County EMA Director Rosanne Anders.
In the meantime, residents can go online to apply for assistance at disasterassistance.gov.
Construction debris is piling up along the streets as residents continue to clean up their damaged properties.
Darden Drive resident Amber Stammen has been helping her neighbors recover from the storm, which heavily damaged several properties there.
Stammen said people don’t have vehicles to haul away material, and even if insurance companies will pay for debris removal, many people don’t have the money to pay for the service now and wait to be reimbursed.
“There’s glass. There’s shingles. There’s nails galore. I just want people to have their yards back,” Stammen said. “It’s a new normal, I get that. But people just want to mow their lawns. You hold on to those little things that can mean so much.”
The city of Xenia paid for construction debris removal after it was hit with an EF 4 tornado in September 2000. That storm damaged more than 250 homes, with total damages estimated at $15 million.
The debris was hauled to the Xenia Demolition Landfill, and the bill to the city was approximately $80,000, according to Scott Filson, president of Xenia Sand and Gravel.
Filson said he’s not seeing the non-stop traffic of debris coming to the facility like in 2000.
“They lined up on us all day long bumper-to-bumper for two, three weeks,” Filson said. “I hope I never see anything like that again.”
Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman said he checked with a former city official and learned the city did a “neighborhood-by-neighborhood” pick-up of debris and the city received a discounted rate from the landfill.
“I cannot confirm any amount, but there was pretty extensive damage that would have involved a lot of material movement,” Merriman said.
Unlike Xenia, Beavercreek does not receive revenue from an income tax but from specific levies that are limited in what the revenue can be used for. Landrum said the streets levy and the general fund are being tapped for storm recovery efforts. Costs to pay the city’s tree contractor, Bunyan, range from $29,000 to $32,000 a day, and if costs continue to mount the city may need to take out a loan, Landrum said.
“We know in the future there will be construction debris that we have to deal with. Some clean-up help will be needed down the road,” Landrum said. “We still have a lot of trees standing that are ruined but not cut down yet. We have a lot more to do. At some point in time we will issue a final call to put out (yard debris), but it’s not on the calendar yet.”
A pick-up truck load of construction debris will cost about $20 at Xenia Demolition Landfill. The Montgomery County Transfer Facility, 1000 Encrete Drive, is also accepting construction debris.
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Samantha Elder, public information officer for Montgomery County Environmental Services, said they’ve not been able to quantify how much debris they’ve received just from the storm damages.
“We are seeing a lot of untreated scrap wood that is related to the storm,” Elder said.
Trucks are hauling loads of organic debris out of Beavercreek neighborhoods daily, which has led to a mountain of the material at the Cemex Reserve park in Fairborn. The yard waste is also being delivered to the county’s environmental services facility in Xenia.
Cemex Reserve contains wetlands and prairies and attracts a lot of migrating birds as well other wildlife. Resident LaCy Dufrene said she’s worried about the impact that the hauling activity will have on the park and wonders if there could be a better plan in place if something similar happened in the future.
Dufrene said she formerly lived in Florida and saw post-storm damage done to sand dunes where hurricane debris was stored.
“I love Ohio. One of the reasons I love it, there’s so much beauty here. I’d hate to see them destroy more,” she said.
Chuck Frazier, senior manager at Greene County Parks & Trails, said the debris is mostly being piled up on part of the parking lot and there shouldn’t be any long-term impact to wildlife or the natural areas of the park.
“It was out of necessity and an emergency situation. It’s not going to stay that way forever,” Frazier said.
Fraizer said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to help grind up the debris into mulch, adding that migrating birds are still present in the park’s wetlands and prairies.
Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said only organic debris is being hauled to Cemex Reserve and the county facility, and there should be no hazards to the park.
“Once the operations have ceased, we will put the park back into its original condition,” Huddleson said.
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