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Commission continues storm clean-up

Storm debris cleanup could continue with an outside contractor if Pike County receives a federal emergency declaration and funding.

Commissioners voted on Monday to continue to allow an outside contractor to continue to remove debris from the April 19 storms, pending a disaster declaration by FEMA and subsequent federal and state funds to assist with the cost.

Commissioners had previously approved spending $100,000 from the rainy day fund to hire a contract to assist county road crews with the extensive cleanup. The storms brought straight-line winds in excess of 95 mph and created a swath of damage across the county.

“As of yesterday, the contractor had already removed $67,000 worth of debris,” County Engineer Russell Oliver told commissioners on Monday. “He’s going to hit that $100,000 cap this week.”

Commissioners had previously authorized spending an additional $50,000 from the rainy day fund if the emergency declaration is received.

“I’m asking that you allow us to use this contractor to clean up all the debris from the storm, assuming we get the emergency declaration and funding,” Oliver said.

He estimated the final cost of cleanup, which is charged on a per-cubic-foot fee, at about $300,000.

Herb Reeves, Pike County EMA manager, told commissioners the county had met its threshold for estimated damages, as has the state of Alabama. “Now, the information will be given to the governor, who will have to make the declaration then send it to Washington,” he said. “I hope it will be approved within two weeks.”

Commissioners voted to approve the use of an outside contractor only if the federal and state emergency funds are made available.

“Obviously we’re all hoping we get declared (a federal emergency),” Commissioner Chad Copeland said. “If we don’t get declared, we’re still going to have to clean it up and we’re going to have to make some hard decisions about how we’re going to go about that.”

In other business, commissioners on Monday:

• Approved two warrants, one for $4 million and another $1.25 million to fund repaving of nearly 60 miles of county roads. The project was previously approved and Monday’s action finalized the funding agreements with Troy Bank & Trust.

• Authorized the purchase of a new vehicle for the sheriff’s department to replace one totaled in a collision with a deer.

•Approved a new fuel card program for use in the sheriff’s department