If you live in Hancock County (except in Waveland) and have signed a Right-of-Entry form, crews from the county's contractors can come onto your property and remove dead standing trees, old appliances and furniture or construction and demolition related debris.
If you haven't signed a Right-of-Entry form and still need help cleaning up your property, you need to file application before Wednesday, Feb. 28.
Hancock County Administrator Tim Kellar and the Board of Supervisors asked for clarification this week on what can be picked up in Bay St. Louis and unincorporated areas of the county.
"Eighteen months after the storm, the situation is getting out of hand," said Kellar.
He said part of the problem is that the Magnolia Landfill off Hwy. 43 cannot accept appliances filled with Freon as they did for a short time after the storm. Residents who arrive at the dump are being told they have to take the old appliances to the Waste Management site in Harrison County and will be charged $75 for each appliance that needs draining.
"As a result, people are dumping old freezers, air conditioners, old tires and other items on roads in the buffer zone, and on county Rights-of-Way, and expecting the county to pick them up," said Kellar.
Hancock County has contracted with the engineering firm Neel-Schaffer, Inc. to monitor debris removal operations and ensure that FEMA guidelines for reimbursement are met.
Tom Henderson, with Neel-Schaffer, issued a press release assuring residents that old appliances and household furniture are among items that can be picked up and hauled away, in addition to standing dead trees on private property or on public Rights-of-Way.
"Debris eligible for removal under this program is limited to the surge inundation area and includes construction or demolition debris, household items, white goods (appliances such as washers, dryers, old tvs, and computers) and other similar items damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina," said Henderson.
"The scope of work also includes demolition of structures damaged by the hurricane and deemed structurally unsound by the county and FEMA. Debris will be removed from public Rights-of-Way or from private property where the property owner has completed a Right-of-Entry form," he added.
Henderson said the program does not include the removal of new construction debris or vegetative debris.
"If property owners do not wish to submit an ROE, they may place storm-related debris on the Right-of-Way in front of their property. Crews will remove FEMA eligible debris from Right-of-Ways as they make passes through the area," Henderson said.
"Dead standing trees will be removed in both the surge inundation area and outside the surge inundation area," Henderson explained.
"In order to be eligible for removal under this program, trees must be dead and endanger a structure, utility, Right-of-Way or pose a safety hazard," he added.
He said trees to be removed may be marked by the property owner provided he has signed an ROE.
Henderson reiterated, "The tree removal program is currently limited to standing trees. Removal of stumps, hanging branches, live trees, trees which have fallen, or clearing or unimproved lots is not currently allowed in this program."
The debris removal mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially ended Aug. 28, but FEMA has extended the reimbursement program until Feb. 28, and another extension has been requested, Henderson said.
Residents in Hancock County who have not yet signed Right-of-Entry forms are being asked to sign them so inspectors with FEMA and Neel-Schaeffer can come on their private property to determine if the dead trees and other storm-related debris meets FEMA criteria and is eligible for cleaning, at no cost to the property owner.
To sign an ROE, property owners need to go to the county building official's office located in Trailer C at the county office complex, 3068 Longfellow Drive or to Neel-Schaffer's office located at the Stennis Airport. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
You need to bring a current driver's license, proof of ownership of the property such as a deed or tax receipt, and are asked to clearly mark the boundaries of the property that needs to be cleaned.
There are two alternative sites available nearby for dumping appliances containing Freon, computers and hazardous household waste, supervisors learned.
Spokesman Cindy Williams with the Harrison Beautification Committee said the state Department of Environmental Quality has a designated dumping site off Interstate 10. She said two dumpsters are stationed on Lorraine Road off Interstate 10, just south of the Sheriff's substation, and there is no charge to dump various items.
Items accepted include old freezers, old air conditioners, electronic appliances, including televisions and computers, paint and other household cleaning products.
The dumpsters are open for public use every second Saturday of the month from 8:30 a.m. until l1:30 a.m. The next available opportunity is Saturday, March 10.
A spokesman for Solid Waste Management, which operates the Pecan Grove Landfill in nearby Harrison County, said the landfill also accepts appliances containing Freon at a charge of $12.50 per appliance.
The landfill is located off Exit 24 of Interstate 10 (Menge Avenue) at 9675 Firetower Road, two miles north of the interstate. Hors of operation are 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Kellar also asked residents to be patient, and keep old tire on their property until they can take them to county collection centers.
"Help is on the way," said Kellar.
The county's tire collection centers at the South Barn on Lakeshore Road and at the North Barn on Hwy. 43 were closed after the hauler originally given the contract filed bankruptcy and went out of business.
Jeff Loftus, the county's consultant to the Gulf Regional Planning Commission, said bids are going out this week seeking a new hauler.
"As soon as we find a new contractor, both collection sites will reopen, " Loftus said.
In the meantime, Kellar asked residents to hold on to the tires and drain them of any standing water, so mosquitoes don't breed.
"Don't throw the tires on the side of the road. I know we're all going through difficult times, but we don't need old tires and other items lining our roadways," Kellar said.
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