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Hurricane Matthew recovery continues countywide
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The cities of Pembroke and Richmond Hill along with Bryan County continue to clean up debris left behind by Hurricane Matthew.

The first round of collection in the city of Richmond Hill should be completed by next Friday.

Charles Heino of Enviroworx, a private company the city contracts with for public services, updated city council at its meeting Tuesday night.

“Everything west of U.S. 17 and north of Highway 144 should be done with a first pass by Friday,” he said. “We’ve got three crews going and we’ll move from the Bottom Village into Live Oak, Sterling Woods and then Piercefield, and from there the Timber Trail area and Richmond Hill Plantation.”

Heino said so far some 2,300 cubic yards of debris has been picked up, or about 60 dump truck loads. The city is waiting on further instructions from FEMA before picking up carpeting ruined by flooding and other non-yard debris.

Bryan County on Monday was declared eligible for individual disaster assistance by FEMA. Fire Chief Ralph Catlett said a team from the agency was in Richmond Hill Tuesday surveying damage, while Assistant City Manager Scott Allison added that the city’s building department has been working to determine residences that are uninhabitable.

“I think that helped with the declaration,” he said.

Bryan County had already been approved by FEMA for public assistance to help pay for the costs associated with emergency response during the hurricane and debris removal.

“We’re very fortunate to have had the people working during this time that we had,” Mayor Harold Fowler said.

Catlett added that he thinks Richmond Hill was “three to four days” ahead of other municipalities in responding to the post-hurricane mess.

“That Saturday morning 144 was completely blocked and by noon it was passable,” he said. “If you can’t get bucket trucks in there, they (power companies) can’t restore power.”

Efforts also continue to restore J.F. Gregory Park. Fowler said about 120 trees were damaged along the trail behind the Wetlands Center.

City Manager Chris Lovell said that while regular trash and recycling collection in the city has resumed, some residents may have been confused about a directive from Bryan County. The county has suspended recycling and stated people could use both their trash bin and recycling bin for household trash until further notice. That is not the case in the city.

“People in the city shouldn’t be putting trash in their recycling bins,” Lovell said. “We’re picking it up anyway but only this week.”

Efforts also continue in the city of Pembroke and the unincorporated portions of Bryan County.

Bill Collins, emergency management director for Pembroke, updated city council there last week. The meeting was postponed from Oct. 10 to Oct. 13 as city hall was without power.

“The employees of the city of Pembroke, every one of them, have all just done a tremendous job,” he said. “We seem like we’ve done this a lot and we haven’t. There are things I would do differently since I know more now, but for a city our size we have done excellent.”

Collins said he has been meeting with FEMA and GEMA about procuring recovery funds.

County Administrator Ben Taylor said the county has so far collected 2,000 tons of debris and is about 60 percent done.

“We’ve made a big dent but we’re asking people to be patient,” he said. “It is a tremendous task and we still have a ways to go.”

Taylor said not only have county DPW employees been working on the collection, but GDOT, Turner and Montgomery counties and the city of McDonough have sent crews to help.

“We’ve even got employees from the recreation department and animal control working on it,” he said. “We’ve taken an all hands on deck approach.”

Taylor added that recycling collection in the county remains on hold until further notice.

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