Debris pickup is continuing to move at a fast pace after Winter Storm Pax dumped thick sheets of ice and caused mass power outages across Aiken County on Feb. 11. The County’s contractor, Southern Disaster Recovery, has collected an estimated total of more than 550,000 cubic yards of debris out of a total of 600,000 off of county-owned roads as of Friday. Crews have collected storm debris in 28 zones established in the county, and the contractor estimates to be complete with debris pickup in about 25 days.
County Public Works Director John Dyches urged residents cleaning up debris unrelated to the ice storm not put that debris out for contractors.
The City of Aiken updated its website on Friday with a list of streets city crews will be working. City Manager Richard Pearce said in a memo sent on Thursday afternoon that city crews have collected more than 100,000 cubic yards of storm debris, and are about to finish their first pass through Aiken.
The City divided cleanup into three passes – a “pass” is one sweep of all city neighborhoods.
Pearce said the initial estimate of total debris he shared at a City Council meeting on Feb. 24 was approximately 278,000 cubic yards, and staff believe they will collect all remaining debris in three months from the storm’s original date.
That collection is separate from the S.C. Department of Transportation’s contractor J.B. Coxwell and its subcontractors, who are turning debris into mulch near the Aiken Fairgrounds from state-owned roads. Jared Williford, J.B. Coxwell’s project coordinator, said by Thursday afternoon, contractors should have picked up more than 20,000 cubic yards.
On Wednesday, SCDOT issued a letter from Chief Engineer for Operations Leland Colvin to Pearce confirming its contractors would pick up piles of debris on all state-owned roads in the Aiken city limits. This letter came after a discussion as to why no contractors were seen working on any state roads for one month.
A second letter from Colvin to Pearce was issued Thursday, and contractors should now be performing all debris removal and disposal operations on state roads within the City of Aiken. Those roads include state-owned roads in the historic district. The letter also stated that SCDOT contractors will not do any tree or limb cutting within the city limits.
Both the City and County request residents to place all Winter Storm Pax debris curbside by Sunday, April 20.
“That’s very important,” Dyches said. “SCDOT already made their announcement about curbside debris deadline sometime in late March ... For one, we’re encouraging citizens to have patience with us and the contractors, but two, we’re urging people that there is some urgency to get the debris out there for the contractors.”
Calls to SCDOT’s contractor J.B. Coxwell were not returned by press time.
For more information about debris pickup by City crews, visit www.cityofaikensc.gov. Click “Storm Debris Cleanup Schedule” at the top of the page.
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.