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Wilmington Says Cost Of Storm Debris Removal Will Double

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WILMINGTON - The Wilmington City Council voted at their February 18th, meeting to designate $600,000 from the city’s savings account to pay an Alabama company that was previously selected through a competitive bid process to activate debris pick-up operations following a winter storm.
Earlier this week the city announced it is now doubling estimates of the amount of yard debris that needs removal  from 50,000 cubic yards to 100,000 cubic yards raising the cost an additional $800,000 for an estimated total of $1.4 million dollars.
City crews had already started picking up debris from roadsides prior to the February 18th, meeting. The City's Public Services Director reported that even with additional City crews, only around 1,200 cubic yards of the estimated 50,000 cubic yards had been removed at that point. Utilizing only
City crews it would take an estimated 17 weeks as opposed to hiring the Alabama company to complete debris pick up in 5 to 6 weeks.
A second 2014 winter storm caused by cold Canadian air dipping far south created icy conditions in New Hanover County in February.
The storm arrived Tuesday February 11th, and brought sleet and freezing rain covering trees and power lines with a layer of ice. Road conditions in New Hanover County were not as severe as the previous January 28th, storm, but power outages and fallen trees caused County Officials to open a shelter at Coddington Elementary School. About 50,000 (43%)
were without power on February 13th in New Hanover County. Schools and government offices were closed through Thursday due to poor weather conditions. Many businesses that still had power remained open throughout the storm.
There was erosion along area beaches. The Town of Carolina Beach warned the public of high drop-offs along the beachfront  from the 1200 to 1600 block of Carolina Beach Avenue North.
New Hanover County, the City of Wilmington and Carolina Beach reported they would  pick up vegetative storm debris.
50,000 cubic yards of debris would fill up to eight football fields. The city serves more than 30,000 customers with weekly curbside yard waste pick-up, and maintains 400 miles of roads throughout the city.
Earlier this week the City released an update on debris pick up.
According to the release issued by the City, "The City of Wilmington is now doubling estimates of the amount of yard debris that needs to be picked up from February’s ice storm from 50,000 cubic yards to 100,000 cubic yards. The new estimates come as city and contract crews have picked up a first round of debris from more than half of the city and have already exceeded the original estimate of 50,000 cubic yards. The city’s contractor is extending their hours and bringing in more crews with larger equipment to handle the increase and still anticipates completing
pick-up the first week of April. City staff
say the reason for the increase is two-fold: original estimates didn’t include debris from backyards that was not initially visible; and many residents are clearing out their backyards as they pick-up from the storms. In order not to slow down pickup, citizens are asked not to cut down trees and put them out for pickup at this time unless they are from the storm."
According to the City, "The additional debris removal will result in an estimated $800,000 increase in debris removal costs for a total of $1.4 million. A resolution to approve funding for the additional cost will be considered by City Council at their March 18 meeting. Funding for emergencies such as this is set aside in the city’s budget each year. The contracted crews are working 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week. It will take time for crews to collect all the storm debris from the ice storm. The city appreciates the patience of our citizens as we work to clean the area."

For more information on the progress of debris pickup, click here for updates...