Price tag for city cleanup of ice storm debris goes up

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Interim deputy city administrator Steve Cassell presented the new numbers to Augusta-Richmond County commissioners Tuesday night.

Up from an initial estimate of 250,000 cubic yards of debris, the prediction now has ballooned to nearly 600,000 cubic yards of branches, limbs, and tree trunks picked up by city contractors.

"It's a unit cost contract, and with more debris, we needed additional money to cover that," explained Cassell.

Commissioners approved $5 million to cover that cost, which includes paying contractors to physically remove the debris, and also funding the monitoring of the process for reimbursement purposes. Cassell said the commission knew it was something that had to be done.

"They did their due diligence, they asked a lot of questions, and there was a lot of answers," said Cassell. "In the end, I think they understood this is a big project and it's important to the city to get this done."

The good news here is that FEMA will reimburse the Augusta for 80 percent of cleanup costs, with the remaining balance being split by the city and the state of Georgia.

"It's a lot of debris out there," said Cassell. "I gave the graphic yesterday, it would fill up the entire municipal building eight times with what we've collected so far. By the time we're done, it will be 12 to 15 times."

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