Debris removal companies selected for Cleveland, Bradley County

Debris removal companies selected for Cleveland, Bradley County

May 10th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Debris is seen from a line of destroyed homes at the Willbrook subdivision in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A Baton Rouge, La., company was selected Monday to clear debris from the April 27 tornadoes.

Unified Recovery Group will begin clearing away the results of the storms later in the week.

Cleveland and Bradley County also selected a Texas company, True North, with a Tennessee office in Murfreesboro, as the debris-clearing monitor.

True North will document the removal and ensure the cleanup meets federal guidelines so that the county can be reimbursed 75 percent of the cost by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Troy Spence, Bradley Emergency Management Agency director.

Residents must bring the debris to road sides, as cleanup crews cannot go onto private property. They also should sort the debris by categories, vegetative, construction (roofing and such) and appliances, officials said.

"It will make it leave their front yards much quicker and save the county money, too," Spence said.

County Mayor D. Gary Davis said state government has committed to half the reimbursement of the remaining 25 percent.

At Monday's Cleveland City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Rowland said state Rep. Kevin Brooks is asking the state to pick up all the remaining 25 percent.

Last week, the Bradley County Commission authorized advertising requests for proposals with an estimated cost that could range up to $10 million and involve moving 600,000 cubic yards of material.

Davis urged volunteers, such as the Bradley Baptist Association's chain saw teams, to continue. Their documented work is saving taxpayer money, he said.

Davis also suggested property owners with spaces large enough to burn their debris should do so.

The county fire department has waived any burning permits. The department also will advise property owners thinking about burning debris.

"We are a community used to taking care of itself," Davis said. "And where we can, that's great."

But storm victims should not hesitate to turn to those offering help, such as the chain saw teams, he said.

The City Council voted Monday to accept both Unified and True North. Eleven companies bid for the cleanup work and six for the monitoring job.

Councilman David May explained his lone vote against the two companies. He said he and local companies understand the process, but he was disappointed that locals did not get the jobs.

"It's almost like our local people can work for free but not to be paid," he said.

Contact Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.