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Clean-up expected to take months
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Clean-up from the ice storm that knocked down an estimated 1,000 trees in Dawson County is expected to take several months.

Dawson County Manager Cindy Campbell, on Tuesday, said the clean-up following the winter storms that blew through the area beginning in mid-February could take up to three and a half months to complete.

"County roads crews began working with storm debris immediately," she said.

The initial process involved moving trees from roads to allow citizen travel, followed by a second phase to clear debris from county right-of-ways.

"There is 100 percent access to all county roads, which was accomplished within the first one to two days after the storm," Campbell said. "It is estimated that approximately 90 percent of all county roads had at least one fallen tree."

Officials estimates the damage from the Feb. 15-18 storm at $160,400, while the Feb. 23-27 storm will cost about $24,600, according to an assessment provided to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

The totals include overtime for personnel in public works and emergency services, equipment and material for debris removal and damages caused when trees fell on county patrol cars.

Campbell said the $185,060.01 grand total includes the estimated costs to finish ongoing winter storm clean-up.

It appears unlikely that financial assistance will be available.

"All damage for [the] entire state must meet a threshold before a Federal Declaration which would pave the way for federal funding to come down through from FEMA to GEMA," Campbell said. "That threshold is $1.41 per capita statewide ($3.56 per capita countywide)."

Campbell said a March 2 letter from state emergency management officials indicates the area would not meet the federal guidelines for disaster funding.

"While there is no expectation that either of these events will rise to the level of a federal disaster declaration, this request is part of our normal procedure to quantify damages after an event," the letter read.

According to Campbell, crews continue to clear about five miles of county right-of-way each work day, "sometimes more or less, depending on the condition of the road or area."

As of Tuesday, Cowart, War Hill Park, Hubbardsville, Hobart Styles, Holcomb, Mulkey and Roscoe Collette roads, as well as Fairfax Court, Biddy and Leila lanes, and Helen's Drive have been completed.

Work is in progress on Kelly Bridge Road and its connectors, AT Moore Road and Thompson Road, Campbell said.

In addition to three dump trucks and one frontend loader, crews have used two chippers, two bobcats and nine personnel with chainsaws to chop limps and remove storm debris.

The county also rented a skid steer and an extra chipper to assist in the clean-up.

During the clean-up, hundreds, if not thousands of road reflectors were scraped up along with ice on the roads. Many of these reflectors, especially those on rural roads on the westside of the county remain on the side of the roads.

While the reflectors were purchased through a federal grant for reflective tape and road striping received through the Georgia Department of Transportation, the county has no immediate plans to replace them.

"At this time, we are not focusing on replacing them because we are focusing on storm debris clean up," Campbell said.

"[Public Works Director} David Headley is in conversation with GDOT about the problem of the reflectors being scraped off and trying to find out whether there is funding available to replace them."

According to Headley, the county is not required to have the reflectors on the roads, though "they are a nice safety feature along with the reflective striping."

Questions about storm cleanup can be directed to the Dawson County Customer Care Center at www.dawsoncounty.org or by calling 311.

"Information gained from citizens will assist in planning and coordinating debris clean-up efforts," Campbell said.

 

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