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Jackson announces deadline for collecting tornado debris
The popping of hammers, the whirring of drills and the snapping of wood slats being torn off houses filled Jackson streets Tuesday as laborers continued cleaning up and rebuilding after the May 6 tornado.
Among the workers still on the job were city employees who, 26 days after the storm, are still hauling away tree limbs and other junk left in the twister's wake.
But the end is near for the city's involvement in debris removal.
On Tuesday, the city issued a deadline of June 13 as the last day residents can put debris on the curb. There will be no exceptions to the deadline.
The city says the cleanup cannot go on forever and is delaying many of the city's routine maintenance programs.
The news brought mixed reactions from some residents in the Woodland Street area, where pockets of old, large trees were uprooted.
"I don't think it's enough time," said Julia Davis, of 724 E. Washington, who lost several trees and had her two-car garage and above-ground swimming pool pummeled by the tornado. "We've tried to hire people to remove debris, but they have all been so busy, they can't get here. So we're trying to make other arrangements and I don't know if we'll be able to make it by June 13 or not.
"We try to get some of it done after work and on weekends. When you look at the amount of destruction the whole city had, I don't know if five weeks is enough for everybody to get their stuff out."
Davis said she thought two months or more would be a more reasonable time frame.
Vi Colyott, who lives in a house built in 1907 on East Washington, agreed that next Friday's deadline might come too soon.
"That's not enough time, really," she said.
Colyott lost some 30 trees on a 3.5-acre lot.
However, across the street and up the hill, Barbie Gibbs said she thought the deadline was fair. A large wooded lot near Gibbs' house at 1101 Woodland Drive was wiped out. She said she and her husband, Scott, plan to cut some of the wood to burn and mill many of the other trees for projects around the property.
"To see the tree demolition was very hard for us," Gibbs said.
Cleanup a tough job
And to clear away that demolition has been very hard for the city.
Rodney Bollinger, public works director, said the city has fallen behind on its street maintenance by as much as a month in some instances because of the resources it has poured into the storm cleanup.
"We thought June 13 would be generous," he said. "That's a little over five weeks. At some point we have to get back to day-to-day operations. People can't expect us to be open-ended with no closure to the cleanup. This is a very important responsibility and I think we've shown that by our speediness in removing the debris. But we, as a city, have other responsibilities too."
Bollinger said the city will only pick up debris, meaning homeowners cannot place post-storm demolition trash for curbside pickup.
"This is stuff that's blown into your yard or blown off your house," Bollinger said.
The debris should be placed in two separate piles no more than 10 feet from the street. One pile should be for building material and the other for tree limbs and clean brush.
Fine yard waste, such as leaves and small twigs, should be bagged and left at the curb for collection.
Bollinger said the city will continue removing curbside debris after the deadline until it is gone. He estimated that will take about two weeks.
"It'll be on the honor system and trust they won't put any more out than they've already got," Bollinger said.
The City of Jackson has placed limitations on what trash it will haul off as a result of the May 6 tornado.
Good to go: Building material, tree limbs, brush, yard waste or other miscellaneous items which were blown from buildings and structures or transported to the residents' or business owners' properties by the tornado.
You haul: Building material which was intentionally removed or demolished by the land owner; trees or tree limbs, brush or yard waste which was not damaged by the tornado.
SOURCE: City of Jackson