As citizens in Putnam County continue to clean up and restore areas damaged by February’s ice storm, Putnam County leaders have also begun the process of removing debris from those areas.
“We have been working to execute contracts with companies that we know will do a good job with the debris cleanup. It works out well because that gave people time to get their debris to the right-of-ways, and now these crews will come in and pick that up,” states Putnam County Executive Randy Porter. “We wanted to make sure we did a good job on the front end of picking a company, so we put them all through a bid process and interviews,” he continued.
There are two companies now under contract with Putnam County. The first is known as a monitoring company. This company is responsible for oversight of the ice storm damage cleanup, ensuring all target areas identified by the County are appropriately addressed, and finance tracking to help with reimbursements that will come as a result of the Federal Disaster Declaration. The monitoring company chosen is Thompson Engineering from Chattanooga, TN.
Tyler Smith, Putnam County Emergency Management Agency director explains, “With the declaration we will get 75% of government and public service expenses reimbursed by FEMA, 12.5% typically comes from the State, and the additional 12.5% is absorbed by the effected city/county. In this case, the monitoring company will ensure that all receipts, timesheets, and invoices associated with our initial response to the ice storm, as well as during the cleanup, are tracked and in a format that helps us get that reimbursement.”
The second company recently contracted by Putnam County is TFR Enterprises, from Leander, TX. “This company will actually be doing the debris cleanup and chipping the brush into chips. What is really nice about them chipping it instead of burning is we can use those chips at the landfill for cover, saving us a lot of money in topsoil over the next year or two. That was important to us as we went through this process, to make sure we were making the most of what we had to deal with,” explained Porter.
Citizens of Putnam County who have damage from the storm are still encouraged to get their brush to the right-of-way and prepare it for pickup. “This is going to take us some time to get everything cleaned up, but the company’s target is to get it done in the next month,” explained Smith. “With the weather turning nicer, we are encouraging people to get their debris out of their yards and get it to the roadside for pick-up,” he said.
Cleanup crews will begin picking up as soon as Monday April 13th. “We are planning to do at least two passes through the most damaged areas, but it is going to take some time to get all of this done. We ask that everyone be patient and give us a chance to get through all the areas we know we need to get. As we go through this we are going to use the reverse 911 system, GIS mapping, local media, and social media to keep everyone informed about what we are doing and our progress,” explained Porter.
Citizens who feel at any point that their area has been missed, is not included, or need additional information can contact officials by calling the Ice Storm Info Line at 646-INFO (4636). Citizens are also reminded that this contract is only for Putnam County. Those who live inside the cities within Putnam County will need to follow the information that comes from their city officials.
Porter concluded, “We are ready to get this cleaned up and put it behind us. We have had a lot of good come from something this bad, especially watching people take care of other people. It has been amazing to watch how resilient our community is and how much we take care of each other. This cleanup will be the same way – neighbors helping neighbors, and we are just really proud of our community.”
For more information about storm cleanup, visit the Putnam County webpage at www.putnamcountytn.gov or follow Putnam County 911 and Putnam County EMA on Facebook and Twitter.