Randy Drewery of Harrison Twp. watched a mountain of debris grow Thursday as truck after truck dumped its load onto an old parking lot where the Forest Park Plaza Shopping Center once stood.
“It really is mind-boggling,” he said. “Honestly, you see people’s houses. You do — you see parts of people’s houses.”
While tornado-related debris has been cleared from many streets and sidewalks in Montgomery County communities, an enormous amount of work lies ahead, officials said.
“At this point I have no idea of a timeline on the cleanup and how long it’s going to take,” said Kris McClintick, Harrison Twp. administrator.
As of Tuesday, about 1,150 truckloads of debris had been removed from Dayton’s impacted neighborhoods, said Fred Stovall, the city’s director of public works. So much that the green landfill at 2670 Wagner Ford Road is full and has been closed. A new debris storage site has been created for city of Dayton trucks only at the old Meijer store on Harshman Road.
A record-breaking 21 tornadoes hit the state on Memorial Day night through the next morning, including 15 in this region.
“A lot of the debris that was in the front and side yards of people’s houses has been or will be picked up,” said McClintick. “But as DP&L gets into those neighborhoods and into those back yards and cuts trees off power lines, I think the residents will begin a second phase, which is cleaning out back yards.”
Down the hill at Forest Park, other dump trucks — from Centerville, from the Miami Conservancy District, from Miami Twp., Sugarcreek Twp., Washington Twp. and others — brought never-ending loads of tree limbs to a second staging area.
Trucks from Butler Twp., Clayton and Dayton, also hit by tornadoes, are dropping debris at the Harrison Twp. sites, too.
“Everybody else started using it as well. It’s kind of turned into a mini transfer station,” McClintick said.
Yard waste and brush disposal is free for Montgomery County residents at the Solid Waste District, 1001 Encrete Lane, Moraine. It must be clean and free of trash and debris and no more than 24 inches in diameter. No stumps are allowed. Contractors will be charged at $36 per ton for yard waste and brush disposal.
For construction and demolition debris, jurisdictions and private haulers are providing large roll-off containers in heavily affected neighborhoods. Building debris can also be taken to the Solid Waste District, where two disposal fees – one typically paid to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and another to Montgomery County – are being waived until July 30 for those in heavily affected areas. The waivers result in a savings of about 20 percent.
The city of Dayton has issued a request for proposals to remove and dispose of debris following the tornadoes.
The city also is seeking a firm to monitor and document debris-removal activities to try to ensure compliance with federal rules so the work and expenses are eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The contractor additionally will be asked to remove debris from private property if there is an “imminent threat” to life, safety and health of the general public.
FEMA teams spread out across the state this week with half of their resources in the Miami Valley. They are categorizing damage to see whether communities are able to rebuild on their own.
Sonja Keaton, Brookville’s acting city manager, said approximately 2,000 yards of tree debris and 2,800 yards of construction debris has been hauled away.
“This amount represents a big dent that came down as a result of the tornado,” she said. “I am sure there will be more brush to set out once everyone has a chance to trim and bring out to the front of their yards.”
The Solid Waste District will continue with extended hours, operating from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Recycling drop off will be closed Sunday.
Typically, 14,000 tons a week pass through the Solid Waste District’s transfer facility. The facility showed a 3,000-ton increase during the seven-day period ending Wednesday.
About 300 loads were taken to the Forest Park sites on Wednesday, a vast majority of it tree debris, McClintick said. The locations, though, are not open to dumping by the public, he said.
Debris will get picked up if out in front of residences in most cases, McClintick said.
“We’re just telling them to take any yard waste to the curb and we will grab it. Same with construction debris,” he said. “In the harder-hit neighborhoods we have roll-off dumpsters for construction debris collection that Rumpke has out for us. We’re emptying those as quickly as possible.”
A tornado went right down Swallow Drive, striking Barb Evans’ property and generated debris for both Harrison Twp. heaps.
“The roof, the siding, the shingles, porch post, a window in back, the garage,” she said “And I lost all the trees, front and back.”