published Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Storm cleanup may take months


The Disaster Relief Distribution Center on Barney Lane and the central warehouse on Keith Street will be open Memorial Day. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. To volunteer time, call 478-0013 or log on to

The Cleveland/Bradley County Disaster Relief Fund continues to receive donations (total is $23,000 so far) at

Source: Bradley County EMA

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Saturday will mark the second week of storm debris cleanup here.

Eleven crews from Baton Rouge, La.-based Unified Recovery Group are moving about 100 truckloads a day, according to Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis.

“We’ve got a lot more days and a lot more loads to cover,” Davis said.

“We are leaving that up to them [Unified],” Davis told county commissioners Monday evening. “They’ve got the maps and the roads, and they know where the worst places are. I realize the so-called less-worse places are bad, too.”

A schedule is posted on the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency website.

By Tuesday morning 40,000 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris and brush had been moved. The crews are working six days a week and about 12 hours a day, according to the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency.

Debris appropriate for the county landfill is being hauled there. Vegetative debris goes to a large graded area in the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Park to be burned.

The Cleveland Public Works Department has been clearing the city’s debris “hot spots,” Public Works Director Tommy Myers said Monday. But city crews are ready now to go back to their regular debris pickup schedule, he said.

The city has 10 debris pickup routes, and each route is picked up once every two weeks, or twice a month.

“FEMA is still working in [the city’s] Route 6,” Myers told City Council members on Monday. That’s the Freewill Road and Villa Drive area. Myers estimates that route will take at least two to three more weeks to clean. Citywide debris cleanup could take another two months, he said.

Routes six, seven and eight are part of the disaster area pickup, Myers said.

He said the city will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the use of city equipment and overtime for city crews.

The city will pay its monthly cleanup bill and then wait for FEMA to reimburse the cost, City Clerk Michael Keith said. He said he expects reimbursement won’t happen until six to eight months later.

Volunteers continue to do a big portion of the cleanup and hauling, city and county officials said. The FEMA contractor can work only from the road rights of way. Homeowners and volunteers have to take the debris to the right of way.

But the bulk of the cleanup is outside the city limits. Some areas, including Blue Springs, are not being picked up yet, County Commissioner Robert Rominger said.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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