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Officials: ‘We're overwhelmed’ with brush pile pickup

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Sewer department employees work to remove debris from a home at the corner of Byars and Sanford Friday morning. Nearly 300 homes still had piles of limbs and branches waiting for pickup. Photo by Echo Day

Sewer department employees work to remove debris from a home at the corner of Byars and Sanford Friday morning. Nearly 300 homes still had piles of limbs and branches waiting for pickup. Photo by Echo Day
 

City officials say Covington Public Works is "overwhelmed" with cleanup from the June 5 storm that brought straight-line winds and widespread damage.


During a meeting of the Finance and Administration committee last week, alderman Tommy Black said employees are battling long shifts and equipment failures.


"(People are asking) 'How come they ain't pickin' up trash?'" he said. "Well, I just happen to know, we had one of the boom trucks – I'm chairman of the public works – did y'all know that we had problems gettin' it up? People are tired of workin' overtime, they, uh, we havin' equipment problems, you gotta haul the stuff all the way to the, the landfill, or not to the landfill, to our storage, and then to the … it takes time."


On Friday, Leader staffers counted more than 275 residences in and around the historic district with one or more piles of limbs, branches and dead leaves as a result of the storm.


Sewer department employees were found clearing the debris with heavy equipment, depositing it into a dump truck for off-loading at the city's biomass gasification plant's holding area.


Eventually, the organic matter will be turned into gas that will fuel the water treatment facility, but it has to be removed first.


"I can understand some people complaining," said vice mayor John Edwards, "but I think the city did a tremendous job considering, just about, you could go down some streets and every other house had wood out there."


Crews have reportedly been working 12-hour days, six days a week.


Yesterday, more crews than ever were spotted clearing debris from the roadways.


"We're overwhelmed," Black said, "We're overwhelmed and we've been doin' an excellent job. It's a slow process, we've only got two trucks."


Alderman Ed Timberlake said some people have had the wrong attitude, but not everyone.


"As I've hoped," he said, "the one thing I've had – and I think two complaints is all I've had – on litter, but not litter, but trash being down. People have been very understanding."


"It was a tremendous recovery … I hadn't seen that many trees down," Edwards said.

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