|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Debris removal program set to begin
Trinity Standard - October 2008
GROVETON – After already seeking bids for debris cleanup, Trinity County commissioners opted Monday to shift to a pilot program being offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Meeting with officials with FEMA and the U.S. Corps of Engineers on Monday, the commissioners decided to seek new bids on the debris removal and utilize the new FEMA program.
Richard Griffin, a debris removal specialist with FEMA, apologized for taking so long to present information on the agency’s pilot program, but noted that he and other FEMA crews had been busy in South Texas in the wake of Hurricane Dolly when Hurricane Ike ripped through East Texas on Sept. 13.
Under the program, which was set up earlier this year, FEMA and the Corps of Engineers would come into the county and inspect all county roads to identify debris piles as well as the trees that needed to be removed due to threats to public safety.
The debris would be located on a computer map by GPS coordinates and a total volume of the debris that needed to be picked up would be calculated.
FEMA would then meet with state and local officials and negotiate a dollar amount to pay for the cleanup and cut the county a check before the work gets underway.
“We are working in Nacogdoches right now, but we can be down here to do the survey early next week,” Griffin said, adding that for a county the size of Trinity, it would take two to three days to complete.
He added that while they would look at debris piled in yards and include that in the estimates, the property owners would need to move the material to the county road right-of-way in order for it to be picked up.
Debris located along private roads – such as the Lake Livingston subdivisions – would not be collected during the FEMA-funded cleanup.
Representatives of the City of Groveton were present during the special meeting and indicated they would follow the county’s lead in the program.
The City of Trinity has already cleaned up almost all of its debris using city workers, but City Manager Phil Patchett was present to get details concerning FEMA reimbursement for the work.
The FEMA official noted that as of Saturday, Sept. 27, FEMA would only pay 75 percent of the cleanup cost and the county would be responsible for the balance.
Griffin noted that in the past, Congress has occasionally increased FEMA’s share to 100 percent but added he could not promise that will happen in this case.
Last week the commissioners opened bids from contractors on the countywide debris removal and several were present Monday hoping that a contract would be awarded.
However, after receiving the report from Griffin, commissioners opted to cancel the previous bids and re-advertise seeking a lump-sum bid for the work.
Steven Dempsey of the U.S. Corps of Engineers told the contractors that as soon as he has an estimate on the amount of debris, it would be made available so they could prepare their bids.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Grover “Tiger” Worsham noted that the previous bids ranged all the way up to $500,000 to clear the debris and expressed concern that he would not be able to pay the 25 percent local share from his budget.
“When we do a contract for this, we need to be sure to include that the commissioners have the option of doing the work themselves. Unless we can get 100 percent (reimbursement) from FEMA, I don’t think I can afford to hire someone to do this,” he said.
Griffin noted that commissioners could decide to use the standard cleanup process used in the past, but again FEMA would only pay 75 percent of the cost.
In that system, the county would hire a contractor using either a lump sum or per cubic yard means of payment. The county would pay the contractors and FEMA would reimburse them after the work is done.
Under the cubic yard system preferred by contractors, Griffin said the county would have to closely monitor the system to make sure that the debris removal trucks were being taken to the dumpsite fully loaded.
“And when you have a 40 cubic yard truck, that does not mean that when its full of tree limbs and other items that you have 40 cubic yards of debris,” he said.
“Its not like hauling water or sand. There will be a lot of air spaces inside the load because you cannot compact it down,” he noted.