When it comes to cleaning up the storm debris, Augusta is not going it alone.
"We needed them, they are the experts in this field and you can see in our county there's a lot of work to be done," said Commissioner Mary Davis.
With tons of debris to pick up, and millions of dollars from FEMA to collect, Augusta Commissioners approved hiring two Florida companies with experience in cleaning up after major disasters like Hurricane Sandy, to take over the recovery from the ice storm.
One company, AshBritt Environmental, will plan and execute picking up all the storm debris. The other company, Leidos, will monitor and document how much debris is collected in order for the city to be reimbursed by FEMA.
"We're not equipped to deal with it. It's one of the things we have to deal with. FEMA, of course, is going to be a very integral part of this repaying the dollars back. We got to do what we got to do to clean the city up," says Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson.
Professional help doesn't come cheap. The debris monitoring company, Leidos, will cost $600,000. And, to get all the debris off the street, Commissioners approved spending up to $8 million with AshBritt Environmental, but final costs could be less depending on the amount of debris.
"It's going to be based on the production. If it's $8 million, it's $8 million, because there's that amount of work. It could be $6 million because, at the end of the day, the production isn't there. It's based on the units of debris that wind up being moved," says Jared Moskowitz, the AshBritt Environmental's general counsel.
The company says it will work with local contractors to help in the clean up, and says the march is to get all the limbs and branches off the street before Masters.
"We've committed to be finished by the end of March," said Rob Ray, AshBritt's senior vice-president. "Can you do that?" we asked. "Yes sir, we feel confident we can do that," said Ray.
Local contractors interested in work with the city's cleanup contractors are encouraged to call the city's Procurement Department.
Now, even with the state and Feds reimbursing 85 percent of the costs, if this cleanup does cost $8 million, Augusta's share will be nearly $1.3 million, which is money that wasn't included in this year's budget.
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