Storm debris removal project closes
by Laura Johnson
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Aug 06, 2012 | 4055 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This section of a creek along Peeks Hill Road was one of the sites prioritized for cleanup by a tornado debris removal program due to the threat the debris caused to infrastructure in the event of flooding. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
This section of a creek along Peeks Hill Road was one of the sites prioritized for cleanup by a tornado debris removal program due to the threat the debris caused to infrastructure in the event of flooding. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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Contractors have concluded their work removing storm debris from creeks and stream beds in Calhoun County, a process ongoing since the tornado of April 2011 caused the damage. The work ended last month.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service and the county teamed up to pay for the $482,200 project.

In Calhoun County, contractors cleared debris from about 45 sites at Tallaseehatchee, Ohatchee and Terrapin creeks and their tributaries, said Rusty Gann, assistant Calhoun County engineer.

Although multiple sites were cleared in northern Calhoun County, contractors weren’t able to remove all the debris from creeks and streams. Instead, engineers at the Calhoun County Highway Department selected sites where flooding from debris might have caused damage to roads or bridges. The engineers prioritized sites based on the cost of replacing the roads and bridges that that were at risk from the flooding.

“We had limited amount that we could do and justify,” said Tim Williams, an NCRS engineer who helped Calhoun and other counties with the stream cleanup process.

Calhoun County residents may not have known the threat debris posed to the rivers and streams, but officials said that it’s evident the cleanup improved the appearance of at least one site along Peeks Hill Road.

“The limits were set based on the replacement cost of the drainage structure affected,” Gann said. “As a whole everybody was pretty grateful for what they did get.”

Even though the crews couldn’t clean up creeks on private property away from the at-risk roads and bridges, residents who spoke to a reporter on Friday weren’t expecting the help in the first place.

“I think everyone is just still recovering on their own personal level,” said Leslie Cruise, whose home narrowly escaped a direct hit by the tornado. “It seems like they’re living with a lot of the damage. They are doing small bits at time.”

Similar cleanup projects have been completed or are under way in counties across the state. Statewide there were 21 similar projects, most of which are ending this month or will end soon. Some of the cleanup that occurred in Calhoun County extended into neighboring counties, such as Cherokee.

Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter@ LJohsnon_star.
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