XENIA — The pile of brush and tree debris at Greene County Environmental Services stands 15 feet tall and winds through a long field.
That’s just half of what was generated in the county from the Memorial Day tornadoes — there’s more at the Cemex Reserve in Fairborn. Both lots are full.
Beavercreek City Manager Pete Landrum estimated Aug. 23 that the city’s storm-related expenses will exceed $3 million. Chipping the debris will cost more than $1 million alone, he said in a city Facebook post, not accounting for hauling.
FEMA could reimburse 75 percent of the total, according to the city manager, if approved. He said he wasn’t sure if the state would kick in half of the remaining 25 percent.
Landrum said FEMA inspected the piles when in town July 22, and that local officials plan to soon go out for bid for chipping and hauling, per FEMA regulations.
“We’re ready,” Landrum said. “We already went out once for bid but had to reject it because FEMA came in (the same day) and told us bid process requirements, which kind of changed things.”
Now, he said he’s just waiting for one more FEMA visit, expected to be after Labor Day, to make sure the paperwork is correct.
“The piles are not going anywhere,” Landrum said. “We felt better just to double check before we send it out, now that there’s not an immediate rush. We want to ensure that we get the reimbursement.”
Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson, too, expressed his concern, during an Aug. 22 commissioners’ work session.
“There’s a lot of money at stake here so we want to make sure we get it right, so we’re holding off,” he said. “We’ve done a great job of getting our approvals early. We’ve done all of our work. But we’re so hesitant to put that out … If we don’t get our paperwork right, we’re not going to get paid.”
Commissioners voiced other concerns, including the piles catching on fire, vandalism, or another storm occurring with nowhere to put the debris.
“I think everyone wants to get it cleared as quickly as possible,” Board President Tom Koogler said.
The board and Landrum also stated their gratitude for the work that it took to get the debris out of yards and roadways to where it is now.
Before the storm, Beavercreek had already contracted with (Bunyan) Tree Care Inc.
“That was an excellent move. There was an emergency clause in there but we never, of course, fathomed something like this happening,” Landrum said. “I didn’t know how well blessed we were that they can handle [this].”
“Not only that, the 40 other municipalities that showed up with boots on the ground and trucks to help haul, too,” Huddleson added.
Landrum said reimbursement, if approved, might not be received until 2020 or 2021.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.