Mounting Flood Debris Piles Up

Flood debris mounts from daily neighborhood sweeps, photo: Jacqueline Fellows

Flood debris mounts from daily neighborhood sweeps, photo: Jacqueline Fellows

Metro officials say the piles of flood debris that are scattered throughout the city should be permanently gone by mid-June.

Until then, the insulation, drywall and ruined furniture are being picked up from neighborhoods and dumped at one of three temporary staging sites – Edwin Warner park, Rhodes soccer complex in MetroCenter, or near the airport off Pulley Road.

Once it’s dumped, giant excavators claw through the debris to find tires and appliances because those items can’t go to the county’s regular landfills. In MetroCenter, South Carolina-based Cherokee Contracting is handling the sorting process.

Cherokee Contracting excavator sorts flood debris at MetroCenter, photo: Jacqueline Fellows

Cherokee Contracting excavator sorts flood debris at MetroCenter, photo: Jacqueline Fellows

As a crane drops a new load of debris that includes a large, mud-caked sofa, supervisor Mike Greene says his crew of five has a hard time sorting through some of the material.

“You know that that’s someone’s couch or that’s someone’s sheetrock. But it’s different when you’re on top of the pile and you see pictures of families. You see their memories.”

After it’s all sorted, the debris is trucked out, usually to one of the landfills Metro already uses. Greene says, at this point, it’s not getting out fast enough.

Public works says it has already collected more than 32,000 tons of flood debris. The amount at the MetroCenter site will likely double before it’s all gone. Greene says that’ll be at least another three weeks.

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