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Cleanup of tornado debris ongoing at The Pines

December 21, 2010

By PAUL SIMS
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

Nearly three weeks after a tornado struck south Starkville, plenty of debris remains in the mobile home park hardest hit by the storm.
The Class EF-2 tornado cut a jagged east-northeast path through the community, leaving the greatest amount of damage behind in the Pines, a mobile home park just off Louisville Street.
The staff of the mobile home park is welcoming volunteers to pitch in and help.
Over the last several weeks, Pines resident Jason Ashley placed several calls about the debris pickup, first to park management, then to city officials. He spoke to Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill on several occasions, the last of which was Monday.
Later in the day, city crews picked up debris on Ashley’s street, including a pile adjacent to his house.
“I’m happy it’s finally resolved. I’m disappointed it took as long as it did to clean it up and it required the residents of the Pines to call the city and ask for it to be cleaned up,” Ashley said.
But a quick survey of the grounds at the Pines Monday shows the work is far from over. Several demolished mobile homes remain in tatters. The remains of one even continued to partially block a street.
Later in the day, Spruill addressed the issues around cleaning up the area.
The Pines is private property and crews conduct sanitation and rubbish pickup there, she said.
“So we have access but those are not city-maintained streets,” she said.
Starkville Recycling conducts a normal rubbish run in the Pines, collecting sofas, limbs, rubbish, leaves, cuttings and clippings within certain parameters, Spruill said.
Then, city crews come behind them and pick up what’s outside the contractual requirements, she said.
Sanitation crews have been making their normal runs, then after these runs, they will come back in the afternoons when they have time to conduct additional cleanup “as folks are cleaning up their residences,” Spruill said.
“We’re trying to save the city money. We’ve been trying to be cost-conscious about it.”
In addition to the Pines, areas of town with damage from the tornado included Louisville, South Montgomery and Vine streets, along with Lynn Lane and Yellow Jacket Drive.
“The Pines is about all that’s left,” Spruill said.
City crews were able to conduct more work during an initial emergency declaration, including moving a trailer, she said, but “the city is limited to what our response can be beyond the true emergency status.”
Spruill added city and private utility crews — and city street and sanitation workers — have all gone above and beyond in addressing the situation.
Private property owners have to conduct the cleanup work and get the debris “within 5 feet of the street in piles,” then crews can collect the items using their equipment, Spruill said.
Misty McClelland, the office manager at the Pines, said the park owns the land, not any of the mobile homes.
It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to have insurance — “some did and some didn’t,” she said.
“We have had some that have had to wait on insurance,” said Ricky Wallace, property r at the Pines. “The insurance part is slowly beginning.”
McClelland said some volunteers began coming into the park to help with the cleanup effort Monday.
“They haven’t asked for a penny,” she said, adding some residents are hiring people to help.
As for the mobile home which remains partially in the street, McClelland said it’s scheduled for cleanup this week.
Ashley said he hopes crews will continue to clean up “as people put their trash on the road.”
“That’s going to keep going on at the Pines for awhile. We’ll keep getting through there,” Spruill said.
Park staff are willing to accept additional volunteers who will be willing to help in the cleanup and debris removal process.
For information on volunteering, call 323-6423.

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