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Raleigh tells tornado victims to clean up debris

Posted July 5, 2011

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— Housing inspectors have started issuing notices to Raleigh residents that they must remove any remaining debris from the tornado three months ago or face penalties if the city is forced to clean it up.

The April 16 storm cut a swath from south of downtown through neighborhoods in east and northeast Raleigh.

City crews picked up downed trees and other vegetative debris through the end of May, but homeowners were expected to haul away construction debris like shingles, siding and insulation.

The Housing and Environmental Division of Raleigh's Inspections Department began sending letters to homeowners in early June if enough tornado debris remained to be considered a "public nuisance," said Ashley Glover, senior housing inspector for the city.

Glover said it's difficult to tell how many notices have been sent to tornado victims since they aren't separated from other warning letters the department sends to demand cleanup of local properties.

Homeowners have 10 days to clean up after receiving a notice. If they don't, Glover said, the city will charge them for the cost of a cleanup, along with a $175 fee.

"We'll go in and do the abatement and send the bill to the owner," he said. "If they don't pay it, there's a lien put against their property."

Martin Evans, who lives in the hard-hit McKinley Mill neighborhood in northeast Raleigh, said the city told him that he had too much debris on his property. The house has been gutted, and contractors are waiting for payment from Evans' insurance company to begin making repairs.

"My first reaction when I got the letter was extreme disappointment. I was angry," he said. "It's been run, run, run the whole time (trying to make repairs). Debris on the sidewalk has been the least of our concerns."

Tornado debris Raleigh tells tornado victims to clean up debris

Evans is living in an apartment in Wake Forest and said he didn't get the city letter until only three days were left in the 10-day window for cleanup. Inspectors gave him additional time to remove the debris, he said, and his contractor cleared a pile away last week.

He and his neighbors questioned the timing of the letters, saying people are still trying to put their lives back together after the tornado.

"To not have that kind of understanding, that was the most frustrating thing," Evans said.

Glover said homeowners should call the Inspections Department with any concerns about the warning letters, and officials will work with them on a case-by-case basis.

"We're not going to give them an extension forever. We've got to get it resolved and cleaned up," he said. "It's just time to start moving forward."


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  • LetsAllGetAlong4Good Jul 11, 2011

    hereandnow99 obviously was not personally impacted by the tornado. And I bet hereandnow99 has done nothing but gripe about debris and cleanup--yet has never done anything to help. Talk is cheap from the other side of a computer. Get out on 95 degree days and cleanup debris and see how much fun it is. Sure hope your world is brighter now that my yard is cleared of tornado debris....at least until reconstruction begins again next week!!! Then you can start griping again.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 8, 2011

    We have tons of people here telling the government to ignore these lawbreakers and "bend", "have a heart", "give 'em a break", etc.

    What other laws do you think the city should ignore enforcement of?

    Speeding? (you might be late for something important) Illegal immigration? (you need to provide for your family) Paying your water bill? (you lost your job)

    So, what is a reasonable amount of time (in your opinion) that neighbors should have to wait for storm victims to get their act together? How long should the city continue to let these people not clean up the trash in their yard? A year? 5 years?

  • oldrebel Jul 6, 2011

    The City of Big Oaks...and a heart of stone.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 6, 2011

    LetsAllGetAlong4Good said, "I had to spend additional money to have debris moved every week or so and will stay have to pay builder at the end."

    The amount of debris is basically finite. It may cost a *little* more to do it every week, but it has to be hauled sooner or later.

    That's called being a good neighbor.

    Besides, your contractor should credit you (or insurance company) with what you spent to remove debris, because it needs to be done is part of the cleanup cost.

  • LetsAllGetAlong4Good Jul 6, 2011

    Only problem with trying to fight back and telling the city you are working as fast as you can, is that the CITY will fine you the $175 admin fine as well as the cost of cleanup. You are out a bunch of $$ regardless. I even had a contract with my builder to remove buulding debris and they said they would WHEN the job was COMPLETE. But that was not fast enough for the city, so I had to spend additional money to have debris moved every week or so and will stay have to pay builder at the end.

  • OpinionatedMama Jul 6, 2011

    How about the city remove the debris still in my neighborhood on public property so it doesn't look like a dump!!!

  • luv2surffish2 Jul 6, 2011

    i would tell meeker and his corrupt cronies to stick it wher the sun dont shine

  • dwntwnboy Jul 6, 2011

    "The city cleaned up the brush & tree debris"- no they haven't! There are STILL cemetaries closed to the public because they still look like disaster areas. Until the City can say they have cleaned up ALL their mess, they can't say anything to anyone else. Not everyone has the time and money to do things when the city wants.

  • LetsAllGetAlong4Good Jul 6, 2011

    All you people who wan the debris removed NOW, why not come and offer to help us who have been so badly hit by tornado of 4/16. I have paid more than $500 to have load after load of debris moved off my property each and every week since 4/16. Yet the city still sends letters wanting it done more often. You who think it is so easy to recover from the tornado devastation---obviously we NOT impacted by it. Keep your own households clean!

  • haggis basher Jul 6, 2011

    "I'm showing my age here, but I remember when Federal, state and local governments used to HELP people in these kind of situations, and not try to make money from them. Heck, I can remember when the Government supported the people. Now it's totally reversed."

    Read the story, they have helped.....and of course I remember when city, county and State were allowed to raise revenue to do what needed to be done.