City officials discuss #NextPhaseFlorence after Matthew

City officials discuss #NextPhaseFlorence after Matthew

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence still has a lot of work to do to clean up all of the downed trees and debris left on the streets following Hurricane Matthew.

That's why their initiative #NextPhaseFlorence has begun and city officials want homeowners to know there is a plan to get the debris cleaned up.

Florence City Manager Drew Griffin said city crews will begin cleaning Zone 1 and Zone 6 on the North Evans Street side all the way to the outlining city property on Monday, Oct. 31.

The rest of the schedule over the next eight weeks is for all other homeowners in central Florence.

Griffin stressed that city crews are not equipped and will be contracting with a company for cleanup efforts of vegetative debris.

"We are not commercial debris collectors. We are residential debris collectors and our equipment is designed for residential debris collection," said Griffin.

The public bid for the contract will be issued in the next couple days. Griffin said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will hopefully provide public assistance funding for contract costs based on the federal procurement and contracting requirements. The entire project could cost up to $2.5 million, so in order to ensure reimbursement of $1.5 million, the city will follow FEMA guidelines and auditing.

City officials hope to have the cleanup completed by late 2016 or early 2017. During that time, FEMA agents said the city must monitor all debris collected by the private contractor. That includes verifying the amount of debris at the point of collection, identifying the truck being used, cataloging the method of collection and listing the landfall site where the debris was disposed.

FEMA recommends the city provide records digitally, with a picture of each load at collection and disposal time.

All debris collection is limited to the immediate area of the street right-of-way. Hazardous trees or stumps within city limits will be collected individually under a separate contract. The total estimated amount around the city is approximately 150,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris.

"We are asking people to be mindful of the debris that is in many streets," Griffin said. "This debris in certain areas of neighborhoods is stretched on the whole street. In other areas, you won't not see it. It's kind of limited, but every neighborhood is generally impacted in some way."

Nancy Radcliffe is a homeowner in the Colonial Heights neighborhood, where houses were built in the early 1920s and the trees are just as old.

"There is just tons of debris that the city has not been able to touch yet," Radcliffe said. "There's just so much. You can't cut everything into 3-foot lengths. You can't wrap it and tie it off in bundles. It's just impossible for the average homeowner to be able to do that."

Radcliff hired an outside contractor to remove a downed tree caused from Hurricane Matthew and all of the debris from her front yard. She and her neighbors described the days after as devastation.

"It's almost like living in a war zone, live we've been bombed," said neighbor Phillip Lassen. It's rather depressing to go by and see all of the beautiful old grown trees knocked down. It's certainly going to be a challenge to get this stuff cleaned up."

Radcliffe encourages everyone to stay on top of what the city is doing with the timeline of clean-up.

"I keep an eye out on the city of Florence website and they are doing everything that they can," she said. It's just so massive. It's far worse than after (Hurricane) Hugo, and we were here in this house after Hugo."

The city is issuing new safety recommendations for Halloween trick-or-treating due to the large amount of debris still located in right-of-ways throughout the city.

City officials strongly recommend trick-or-treating during daylight hours only on Halloween.

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