Two companies hired to oversee ice storm debris removal



Two private companies will oversee Augusta’s ice storm debris removal, which is going to cost more than $8 million.

At a called Monday meeting, commissioners authorized hiring Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based contractor Ashbritt Environmental to manage the contracted storm cleanup effort for $8 million, and Reston, Va., defense contractor Leidos to monitor debris removal for $603,667.

With no disaster response firms under contract, the city used an emergency procurement process to hire Ashbritt and Leidos based on requests for proposals issued by Chatham and Liberty counties for similar recovery efforts. The commission approved two resolutions authorizing the contract awards.

Engineering Director Abie Ladson included on a price sheet for the contracts the “possible reimbursement scenario” if Augusta is repaid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency for 85 percent of the expense.

Under the scenario, FEMA would pay $6.5 million and GEMA would pay $860,367, with Augusta responsible for the remaining $1.24 million, Ladson said.

While damage estimates have been totaled, the storm’s effect on Georgia and Augusta-Richmond County has not yet been deemed eligible for the aid, he said.

“Whether we pay for it or FEMA pays for it, it’s still got to get done,” Ladson said.

Having the experienced firms aboard as soon as possible will help ensure the city is reimbursed, he said.

Ralph Natale, the director of operations for Leidos’ response and recovery practice, told commissioners that Augusta’s lack of “prepositioned contracts” created additional delays in obtaining FEMA assistance.

Natale said 50 people locally were trained over the weekend to document the debris removal. They will produce some 50,000 load tickets and 100,000 photographs to document the effort.

Ashbritt will manage the contractors already at work on debris across the city, Ladson said.

Ashbritt was activated in 60 different jurisdictions and the state of New Jersey during Superstorm Sandy, removing 3 million cubic yards of debris, Ashbritt General Counsel Jared Moskowitz said.

Asked which areas of Augusta will be cleared first, Ashbritt senior vice president Rob Ray “we’re working the entire county at the same time” while some areas are worse than others. Areas such as Augusta’s Hill and southeastern Richmond County still have a lot of “hangers” and “need a lot of bucket trucks,” Ray said.

Local contractors who want to get work with the firms should contact the procurement office, Commissioner Donnie Smith said.

“We want our local participation to utilized at its utmost capability,” Smith said.

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While most have praised the local response to the ice storm and there has been no loss of life, Augusta’s fire department union was critical Monday of leadership during the storm and its aftermath.

According to Augusta Professional Firefighters Association President Randy Reese, the city had to close several stations during the storm because of a lack of disaster contingency plans for getting staff to work and checking on their well-being. Propane-powered generators, meanwhile, ran out of gas, despite administration’s being warned in advance they were low, Reese said in a Monday news release.

Commissioners took no action regarding the issues Monday, although several said they were aware of them.

– Susan McCord, staff writer



Sun, 12/17/2017 - 19:23

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