Ringgold tackles piles of refuse in aftermath of killer tornado

Ringgold tackles piles of refuse in aftermath of killer tornado

May 11th, 2011 by Joy Lukachick Smith in News

Calvin Parris examines the marble floor and staircase he built while walking through what use to be his two-story 3,200-square-foot residence off of Cherokee Valley Road off in Ringgold, Ga., before last month's EF4 tornado demolished it. Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press

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CLEANUP TIPS

Catoosa County residents who need tree and brush debris picked up should contact the public works division at 706-935-3574. Residents should separate tree debris from household waste and building debris. Anyone who hasn't picked up an abandoned vehicle from storage at 320 Frontage Road should do so today.

Source: Ringgold, Catoosa County officials

RINGGOLD, Ga. - Gary Jeffers raked splinters of wood across his lawn into the giant pile of branches and pieces of tree trunks mounting in front of his yard on Guyler Avenue.

Workers had hauled away his tree limbs last week, but Jeffers - with help from church volunteers - had replaced those piles with two new ones that reached almost 10 feet high. One street over, the rumble of trucks removing debris for his neighbors echoed across Jeffers' yard Tuesday afternoon.

"It's just going to take time," he said.

Two weeks after a tornado ripped through Ringgold, damaging half of the businesses and a quarter of the homes, debris removal is in full swing.

The next step will be to get rid of the tons of trees and building rubble, officials said.

City and Catoosa County officials hired DTS Inc., a South Carolina-based company, to remove the debris, and workers began clearing the sides of main roads Monday, City Councilman Randall Franks said.

Cost tallies will take time, but officials will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on reimbursement, Franks said.

The first wave of trucks will remove all the tree debris, and building debris will be targeted next, Franks said. Debris will be hauled to a staging site for proper disposal, he said.

Debris pickup is scheduled to continue for the next two months, officials said.

On Nashville Street - Ringgold's main drag - piles of debris were stacked high as residents and an influx of out-of-town volunteers continued to clean the area.

"This community has pulled together," said Ringgold Police Chief Dan Bilbrey. "[But] it's going to take awhile to get the debris out of the way to where we can look at reconstruction."

As part of the cleanup, officials are asking that owners of abandoned vehicles towed from Alabama Highway pick up their vehicles by 5 p.m. today. About 30 vehicles still are being stored at 320 Frontage Road off Alabama Highway.

Most of the owners have been contacted, but two out-of-state vehicle owners haven't been located, Bilbrey said. Because all the businesses along Alabama Highway have been searched, authorities don't believe the owners are missing as a result of the storm, he said.

Most of the cars left in the lot appear to have been destroyed by the storm. Some of the roofs were caved in, and most of the vehicles no longer have glass in the windows.