Mountains of tree debris to be converted to wood chips

Augusta is building its own small mountain range – sort of.

Tree debris left in the wake of the historic ice storm towers stories tall at three designated disposal sites. More than 100,000 cubic yards of gigantic branches, limbs and chunks of tree trunks have been dumped there by trucks that are collecting debris from across the city.

Although tons of debris wait to be collected, the mountains won’t be around for long. They will soon be replaced by huge piles of wood chips.

Jared Moskowitz, the general counsel of AshBritt Environmental, a contractor hired by the city Monday to oversee storm cleanup, said grinders and chippers will be brought in this week to reduce the massive mountains of debris.

“Once that operation starts, it’s a matter of days, not weeks,” Moskowitz said about processing the piles. “Those will soon no longer exist.”

What happens next with the wood chips is up to the city, which hasn’t decided how it will handle disposal.

“As things come along, we’ll make those decisions as they come close,” said Augusta Engineering Director Abie Ladson.

Moskowitz, whose company has led disaster recovery efforts for Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, said wood chips can be recycled as mulch, sold to an energy facility that uses them as fuel or sent to a landfill.

The piles mounted because the city started moving tree debris to the staging areas at Eisenhower Park, Carrie J. Mays Park and near Lake Olmstead immediately after this month’s storm, Moskowitz said. Debris collected in coming weeks will be chipped as it is picked up.

Area contractors who want to assist AshBritt Environmental and Leidos, a second firm contracted by the city to pick up debris from rights of ways and parks, are invited to a workshop Friday at Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.

The workshop will be from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Contractors should bring a copy of their insurance, worker’s compensation forms and a W-9 tax statement.

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DISASTER RELIEF SOUGHT

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday submitted a request to President Obama for federal disaster relief for 48 counties affected by the destructive winter storm.

The counties, which include all Georgia counties in the Augusta metro area, have combined damage estimates exceeding $48 million, more than three times the state’s threshold for seeking federal assistance.

“The storm brought destructive levels of ice that far exceeded anything we’ve seen in decades, and state and local agencies had to mobilize significant resources to protect lives and property and get Georgia back to normal as quickly as possible,” Deal said in a statement.

Deal has designated GEMA Director Charley English as the state coordinating officer for the request. English will work with FEMA to assess any further damage and provide additional justification.

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