North Myrtle Beach seeks FEMA aid for clearing storm debris

North Myrtle Beach seeks FEMA aid for clearing storm debris

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The North Myrtle Beach City Council held an emergency meeting on Monday to allow for debris removal on private roads with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Officials spent most of Monday's meeting talking debris removal.

"The city, I think, was very fortunate, that we didn't have any more damage than what we had," said North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley. "But we did have a lot of debris and that's what we are working on right now."

Hatley, along with the rest of city council, voted unanimously to amend its disaster declaration. This comes after requesting more help from FEMA to not only assist in cleaning up, but also in covering the cost of picking up debris on private roads.

"FEMA looked at that package and everything was great," said city spokesperson Pat Dowling. "But they wanted us to revise our original disaster declaration to include specific mention of our authority to pick up from private roads."

Though these communities are private, Hatley said the city realizes debris removal would be overwhelming for each community to take care of alone by the homeowners associations hiring a lawn or tree removal service.

"It's just too much debris for that one company to handle," Hatley said. "So it's very important for us to remove it. It becomes a health hazard, it becomes a fire hazard. And we want it removed in a timely manner. And so therefore, the best way is through FEMA."

Though the city is making huge progress - following FEMA trucks with city clean-up crews and already covering the Barefoot area, some parts of Windy Hill, Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive and Crescent Beach - it is still looking like three to four weeks before every street is hit at least once.

"Then we will go back and do a second pass for those who have been late in getting it out or are still working on cleaning a major mess and getting the rest out into the road," Dowling said.

Right now the city is asking for residents' patience as it waits for another response from FEMA and continues to work on clean-up.

In the meantime, the city has a message for all residents and it's to be aware that there are some people looking to take advantage of recovery efforts.

City officials say they've had instances where people are adding to others' debris piles.

"That's one thing to be aware of; if someone is adding to your pile and adding to your pile that's really illegal to do," Hatley said. "And another thing we want to make sure is that people hire the right people."

While the city has stopped some of the illegal drop-off, it continues to patrol the areas where it was happening.

As for hiring any crew to help after Matthew, the mayor said residents should call the city and ask if that person or crew has a business license with the city.

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