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Triangle Making Strides In Storm Cleanup Efforts

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Cities and towns around the Triangle are making strides in cleaning up debris after December's ice storm. However in some places, the cleanup effort is still going on and officials believe it will take longer and cost more than expected.

Crews in Raleigh are still working to remove the debris from thousands of miles of city streets. Officials said they have collected 400,000 cubic yards of debris, which is enough to cover 50 football fields.

However, city officials said they are only three-fourths complete with their first pass of the city. Crews hope to complete the first pass of the city by Jan. 11 and complete a second pass by the end of the month.

Raleigh officials initially thought the cost of the cleanup would be about $2 million, but they later adjusted the cost to be about $6 million. Now, officials say it may cost as much as $8 million.

"The cost of loading and hauling debris has been about $2.3 million and another $900,000 or so has been spent on the grinding [of debris]. We are hopeful that all of this will be reimbursed," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.

Seventy-five percent of the cleanup costs are eligible to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Meeker said he hopes the state will pick up the tab for the other 25 percent. He said he has already written a letter to Gov. Mike Easley detailing his request.

While Raleigh's streets are still littered with broken limbs, crews in Cary finished their first sweep earlier this week. Cary used a computer mapping system to give crews a strategy for covering the town.

"They kind of put their guys with us. The leadership of this storm with Cary is just great to work for because it's so much easier to come in on a storm where you know where you're going," contractor Gary Gallopo said. "You know what you're cleaning up and they've worked right along with us."

Meanwhile, Chapel Hill is making a dent in its cleanup efforts. Town officials said they expect to complete their first sweep by the end of the month.


Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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