Officials say cleanup 'costing millions'; urge patience
As City of Aiken and Aiken County crews work to clean up copious amounts of yard debris downed by the recent ice storm, patience and understanding are needed, according to County Administrator Clay Killian.
“Everyone wants it done today, tomorrow or yesterday,” Killian said. “We're now in the process of diverting resources to clearing roads to now maintaining the extra sites because we have to document everything that's coming in for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).”
Many roads and sidewalks throughout the 700-mile county stretch are still covered in debris.
Aside from the Barden Landfill, located at 411 Connector Road in Graniteville, other sites are opening up due to the sheer number of debris collected.
“It's a major disaster and our early estimate is at a quarter of a million (250,000) cubic yards of debris to be removed, and that's probably still low,” Killian said. “It's costing millions of dollars, too, as far as cleanup.”
City of Aiken crews are working from dawn to dark collecting yard debris, but still staff have no time frame on when collection will be finished.
City of Aiken and North Augusta residents are advised to leave debris at the curbside in front of their properties.
Tim Coakley, director of the City's Public Works Services Department, said his staff currently does not have an estimated end date, but workers are doing their best.
“Give us room to get the debris, and don't pile it on a telephone box or under power lines or trees,” Coakley said. “We're not going to see that kind of stuff, and it could damage our equipment and infrastructure.”
City residents can also drop off their debris in the field at Centennial Drive and East Pine Log Road or haul debris to the additional collection sites.
The City is currently receiving aid from several other cities for debris collection, including Lexington, Greenwood and Clinton.
“There's no estimate on how much we have collected yet,” Coakley said. “The big storm in 2004 was estimated at 100,000 cubic yards. It's being said now that it's two to three times as much. ... It's a significant event in the history of Aiken.”
Residents should anticipate long lines at the Barden Landfill, but Killian said he and staff appreciate all that residents are doing to clean up their yards.
“If residents want to put the debris on the curb or bring it to a landfill, that's fine,” Killian said. “Patience is needed to get this debris out of the way.”
Additional drop off sites for storm debris only will be available starting today from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sites include: Roy Wagner Park, located at 4287 Festival Trail Road in Wagener; Boyd Pond Park, located at 373 Boyd Pond Road in Aiken; and Harrison Caver Park, located at 4181 Augusta Road in Warrenville.
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.