As of April 25, 2014, I am happy to share that your persistently hard-working City of Aiken yard trash crews working with other City departments have collected, in just 52 workdays, more than 117,177.79 cubic yards of Winter Storm Pax debris. South Carolina Department of Transportation – or SCDOT – staff report that their contractor collected, in 21 work days, about 52,000 cubic yards of debris.

In addition, residents like you have hauled in an estimated 19,630 cubic yards of debris.

Our totals through April 25 look like this:

• City of Aiken – 117,177.79

• SCDOT Contractor – 52,000.00

• Resident self help – 19,630.00

Total – 188,807.79

During Pax, state and county officials were aided by City employees who worked to keep an emergency lane open on major state roads in our city throughout a very dark night. After Pax finished with us, our streets were operational within two days.

At the start of debris pickup, we knew we were looking at two to three months in order to collect all that Pax had put on the ground.

We are encouraged that we expect to have it collected by middle of May – three months after it fell. It is unfortunate that SCDOT officials misinterpreted our commitment to continue to serve you after this history-making storm struck.

Once we were aware of their misunderstanding, we tried to assure them that they were welcome to join us, the other cities helping us and community volunteers to also help collect this debris.

Aiken’s history teaches us that we all work best when we work together.

My time as Aiken’s city manager has taught me that we have dedicated City staff willing to work long hours to provide you with quality city services at a good value for the taxpayer.

Our Winter Storm Pax experience has been chocked full of opportunities to excel. Beyond an exchange of emails there have been many, many phone calls, face-to-face meetings, updates, press releases, reports, trials, errors, and a whole lot of other efforts to handle the largest amount of debris in our city’s history. It has been an enormous undertaking.

I will always be proud of those who have stepped up and delivered selfless, quality service in the face of adversity.

There has been no better showing of character.

Richard Pearce is the city manager of Aiken.