Local residents voice concerns about winter strom debris cleanup

  • Thursday, March 27, 2014

Many area residents are either disappointed or confused about Georgetown County’s ongoing storm debris removal after Winter Storm Pax.

Most people agree that Georgetown County officials’ offer for free debris removal shortly after the storm was a great thing.

But some people are now wondering why their debris has not yet been picked up.

“We all read in the papers, as well as on the County website, that if we piled the ice storm debris from our yards out beside the street that it would be picked up,” said Bill Hills of Murrells Inlet.

“The County now says that they will only pick it up if you live on a county road. I just called the SCDOT and they said that they have only told the contractors to pick limbs that fell beside the roads and not from yard piles beside the road. Many of us are stuck with large piles of limbs waiting to be picked up. The County dump sites have gone back to one load a day per person. Who dropped the ball?”

Other Murrells Inlet residents agreed on the South Strand News Facebook page.

Renie Seel wrote, “Haven’t seen them in Murrells Inlet.”

Residents of Andrews also commented on the Facebook page.

Gail McDonald Moore wrote, “Appreciate what they’ve done but they need to do another trip thru the neighborhoods in Andrews!”

Candy H. Leal wrote, “I still have debris in my yard and many other yards in Andrews.”

There are several messages on the Facebook page from residents of the Kensington and Belle Isle neighborhoods and other areas saying the crews have not been there to pick up debris.

County response

In response to these and other concerns from county residents, Jackie Broach, spokesperson for Georgetown County, offered the following statement:

When we originally began asking residents to start putting debris in the right-of-way, at the very beginning of the cleanup process, it was still uncertain if municipalities would utilize our contract with AshBritt/Thompson or make other arrangements. We also knew DOT would be doing their own collections on state owned roads, but weren’t sure of all the specifics such as when their efforts would start.

After conversations with municipalities and others involved, it was determined it made the most sense to tell all county residents to go ahead and start putting their debris in the right of way.

We all knew debris would be picked up whether it was our contractor or someone hired by the City or state. And that way debris would be ready when the appropriate contractor made it to an area without each contractor having to send out separate notices and asking residents to figure out whether their road was county or state owned.

We still think that was the best call, though there has been some confusion and concern as the county’s cleanup operations wind down and residents on state roads worry they have been overlooked and their debris won’t be picked up at all.

This confusion is compounded by the fact that in some instances one part of a road is county maintained and the other part is maintained by DOT.

We’ve started specifying “county roads” in debris news releases, not because other debris won’t be picked up, but because our time line and cutoff date doesn’t apply to roads being cleaned up by DOT.

There was a huge amount of debris left by this storm. According to the most recent figures from our contractor, they have picked up more than 87,400 cubic yards of debris.

Our contractor is still working to pick up debris on county roads in some areas and will continue to do so through next week. However, most of the calls we’ve gotten about large piles of debris are on state maintained roads. To the best of my knowledge (and that of our public services director), those will be picked up.

The County announced on March 12 that as of March 17 community recycling centers would return to normal operations and normal one load per day limits would be reinstated.

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