Tree debris from ice storm creates ripple effect of work for Horry, Georgetown counties and cities

jrodriguez@thesunnews.comFebruary 19, 2014 

As weather peaked in the mid-70s Wednesday, crews were still cleaning up tree limbs and other storm debris from last week’s winter storm.

This area has not seen a storm this size in a decade, Horry County officials said. It produced 614 trucks of storm debris that crossed the scale at the Horry County landfill Tuesday, shattering previous records and more than tripling the landfill’s daily average for trucks.

“[Tuesday] was the biggest day ever,” said Danny Knight, executive director of the Horry County Solid Waste Authority. “We were running two grinders at times.”

The landfill averages about 185 trucks across its scales daily. So far, Knight said, the landfill has accepted 1,841 tons of storm debris since last Tuesday’s ice storm that knocked out power to thousands across the state.

That total doesn’t include storm debris from Myrtle Beach because the city has not decided what it will do with the debris it is picking up curbside for city residents.

Mark Kruea, spokesman for Myrtle Beach, said the city will either create a burn curtain, which is a high-intensity smokeless burning process, or haul the debris for processing at the landfill.

“We do have extra crews picking up the debris, but more is coming out,” Kruea said. “As we pick up debris in one neighborhood, other neighbors are putting more out. It will take a little while to pick it all up. … We have all hands on deck.”

North Myrtle Beach already took a good portion of its storm debris to the landfill, said city spokesman Pat Dowling.

“The bulk of it is done, but a lot of our property owners live out of town,” Dowling said. “So there will probably be some delays at some of those houses.”

Horry County reports 90 percent of the 1,400 miles of county roads were partially blocked after the storm, and 40 percent of those were completely blocked, said spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier. She said county crews addressed 1,187 miles of its roads from Feb. 12-14.

“That’s a lot of man hours,” Bourcier said, adding the total man hours reached 4,000 on Monday. Man hours, supplies and equipment have cost the county $127,000 as of Monday.

Bourcier said cleanup could take an additional six to eight weeks, and reminds county residents that Horry County will not pick up storm debris from residential properties.

“We do not provide curbside service like the cities do, so if they drag their debris to the right of way, we’re not picking it up,” Bourcier said.

Georgetown County Council decided to contract with Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based AshBritt Environmental to develop a debris cleanup process.

Unlike Horry County, Georgetown County encourages its residents to place storm debris and vegetation, not bagged, in the right of way. Cleanup will begin Monday, said Jackie Broach, spokeswoman for Georgetown County.

She said Georgetown County’s landfill, like Horry’s, remained open last weekend and on Monday.

“We’ve seen such increased demand that we couldn’t justify staying closed,” Broach said.

Knight said Horry County has placed more cans at its 24 recycling centers across the county, and will continue to have extended hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at its landfill this weekend. He said he has seen a wide variety of haulers bringing debris to the landfill.

“It was amazing to sit up there and watch it because you’d have a painter’s name on the side of the truck, but behind it would be a trailer with two or three guys on it holding down limbs,” Knight said.

Bourcier said the debris that is not picked up can create a danger in the spring.

“That will stay with us through March and April, which is wildfire season,” she said. “There’s so much that will still be on the ground from the storm, that’s just added fuel that will be there for wildfire season. Those issues will stay with us for several months.”

Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.

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