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DOT collecting downed trees from Irene

Posted September 12, 2011

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— State Department of Transportation crews on Monday began collecting roadside debris left behind in several counties by Hurricane Irene.

Irene roared up the North Carolina coast on Aug. 27, smashing boats, tearing at homes, ripping apart trees and flooding farm fields.

Crews hired by the DOT were on state-maintained roads in Duplin, Edgecombe, Halifax, New Hanover, Onlsow, Pender and Wayne counties to pick up tree limbs and other vegetative debris. Crews began the cleanup in Johnston County last week, and they were expected to start in Nash and Wilson counties on Wednesday.

The DOT has asked people to cut limbs into 5- or 6-foot pieces and place them by the side of the road so that they don't block traffic or affect roadside drainage.

"I know there’s a lot of damage all over Tarboro, but it’s sort of slow," homeowner Rudolph Knight said. "I think they could have (sped) it up."

Tarboro resident Terry Smith said he didn't have any problems with the cleanup effort.

"We had three trees across (our) street the day the storm came, and they got it to where you could get through the streets that night. Then, the next week they were gone. That’s pretty good," Smith said.

He said he was glad to see the truck come through his neighborhood to pick up the rest of the debris Irene left behind.

"We’ve just had swarms of mosquitoes, and we really didn’t have that many before," he said. "It was awfully good to see that truck come down here."

Irene debris cleanup Cleaning up after Irene is a slow process

Homeowners are responsible for disposing of construction debris, such as shingles, siding and insulation, as well as other storm debris, officials said. DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Garifo suggested that people check with their insurance companies because many homeowner policies cover the cost of debris removal.

People who don't live on a state-maintained road should check with both their insurance company and their county or municipal government to determine whether any local debris pick-ups are planned, Garifo said.

In Rocky Mount, for example, crews have already started collecting storm debris. Residents are asked to separate debris into three piles: tree limbs and other vegetative debris, construction debris and metal debris like fencing.

The DOT cleanup, which is being done in phases in eastern North Carolina counties hit by Irene, is expected to continue for at least a month, Garifo said. The faster people put out their debris, the quicker crews can clean up, she said.

Some area residents who were frustrated by the cleanup effort after Hurricane Floyd in 1999 said they don't want to wait for the state crews this time.

"I put a tree out (on) the side of the road, and it took about nine months to come pick it up," Tony Holloman said. "I figure do it right the first time, and you don't have to worry about it."

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  • Rebelyell55 Sep 12, 2011

    Free of charge?? Nothing is free, our tax dollars are paying this bill.

  • rromyja Sep 12, 2011

    Be glad we have a department that comes around and cleans up these messes FREE OF CHARGE!! In many communities across the United States, a citizen is on their own to remove whatever they need removed. Be patient, it will all be picked up soon.