The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 7, 2011

Joplin, Duquesne officials: Debris removal deadline met

JOPLIN, Mo. — Debris removal in sectors of Joplin and Duquesne that were heaviest hit by the May 22 tornado has been completed, according to local and federal officials.

Sunday was the date the Federal Emergency Management Agency designated as the deadline for it to pay for 90 percent of the work.

“As of (Saturday) night, we closed out 100 percent of the sectors” in the debris removal zone, said Marcus Spade, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We have crews out today (Sunday) who are picking up what has been pushed out to the right of ways since then, but we’ve done the final inspections with the city, and the city has signed for all of the sectors.”

Spade said crews were still out late Sunday afternoon to get what was left at the curbsides. He said agreements had been made with the dump stations and the grinding centers to stay open through the night to take what had been pushed to curbsides on Sunday.

The federal government had agreed to pay 90 percent of the debris cleanup costs through Sunday. Gov. Jay Nixon and the state’s U.S. senators and 7th District congressman had asked FEMA to extend that deadline, but it declined to do so.

Nixon last week criticized FEMA for not granting the extension, saying not all the work would be done and that the lower federal match of 75 percent that starts today would cost the state a lot of money.

His spokesman, Scott Holste, said in a statement Sunday that while “significant progress continues to be made, it’s clear there is still work to be done inside the zone of catastrophic damage, and the Corps of Engineers indicates their debris removal will continue along pubic rights of way through at least Aug. 11. We must complete this vital step in the recovery process, and the state of Missouri will continue to stand with the people of Joplin.”

City officials said Sunday that they that had no reservations about signing off on the work.

“They said they were done,” Mayor Mike Woolston said of his understanding of the status of the work on Sunday from city administrators and corps officials. “They said there are some miscellaneous things they will pick up, but that would be fairly minimal, and they have completed the process within the deadline time frame. Obviously we’re very pleased.”

NEWS CONFERENCE

The city will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. today at City Hall to discuss the next phase of recovery. The City Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. today, but that agenda is limited to canvassing the results of the Aug. 2 election in which voters approved renewal of the quarter-cent parks and stormwater sales tax for 10 years.

City officials in Duquesne signed off on the debris removal under the 90 percent match on Friday.

“What we’re dealing with now is those who did not sign the right-of-entry forms” to allow government contractors to clear the loose debris from those properties, said David Weaver, assistant to the mayor of Duquesne.

He said about 12 properties have not been cleared. He said there are signs at three of them that work may be impending, but city officials have no way to reach any of the 12 property owners. County records list the owners’ names, but they have left Duquesne and there is no contact information available for them, Weaver said.

“We hope people realize the need to take care of those for the mental health of their neighbors and the recovery,” he said. “Even if they don’t have money to take them down or are not sure what to do, if they’ll contact us we can help with volunteers.” Weaver said he has heard that residential lots in Duquesne are selling for $10,000 to $15,000 if people don’t wish to rebuild.

COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES

Today is the deadline for debris to be cleared from commercial properties in Joplin. Woolston said business owners should contact the Public Works Department at City Hall with their plans if they have not cleared their property.

The mayor said school district buildings such as Joplin High School have not been demolished yet because the school district is still negotiating with its insurance company.

The city may have to hold nuisance hearings on anything that is not cleared soon, the mayor said.

There are still houses standing in Joplin that will have to be demolished and were not eligible for the loose debris removal. There also are some properties yet to be cleared by private contractors, the mayor said.

Damage

The May 22 tornado damaged or destroyed about 8,400 residences and businesses in Joplin and about 500 in Duquesne.

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