County tornado cleanup underway due to streamlined process

Ben Nunnally, The Anniston Star, Ala.
·2 min read

Apr. 9—Work to clean up debris from the March 25 tornado that killed five people in northwest Calhoun County began Wednesday, according to a county department head.

County engineer Brian Rosenbalm told the Calhoun County Commission during its Thursday morning meeting that workers had started collecting piles of debris collected by residents in affected areas, just two weeks after the storm and tornado hit.

"Our responsibility to come in and clean up our roadside started in earnest yesterday afternoon," Rosenbalm told the commissioners. "I consider that quick action, two weeks from the day of the storm to contractors on site, on the ground, removing debris."

The same process took more than a month after the tornado outbreak in April 2011, county attorney Gloria Floyd noted after the meeting. At the time, each county affected by a storm had to bid out contract work for cleanup. Immediately after a storm, demand for cleanup services could drive prices up, and even if the price was affordable, the bid process would still be lengthy.

In the decade since those storms, Floyd said, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama created a pre-bidding program that breaks the state into regions. Bids for contract cleanup services are made well in advance of storms, and when disasters occur it's a matter of days, rather than weeks, to align financing and contractors.

Commission Chairman J.D. Hess thanked Rosenbalm, as well as Myles Chamblee, interim director of the county Emergency Management Agency, for distributing instructions to residents about gathering and stacking debris for pickup.

During its meeting, the County Commission:

— Issued a proclamation congratulating the Anniston High School boys basketball team for winning the Alabama High School Athletics Association Class 4A state championship last month. All but two members of the team attended the meeting, posed for pictures and received certificates and a laminated copy of The Anniston Star's front page commemorating the victory. Commissioner Fred Wilson read the proclamation aloud.

Head coach Torry Brown thanked him and the rest of the commission, and briefly introduced each member of the team and his assistant coaches as he passed out their certificates.

"It takes everyone working together," Brown said.

— Authorized Hess to sign a "notice to proceed," a document required for the ACCA pre-bid debris cleaning process.

— Extended contracts with Drivers Choice and Barrett Body Shop through Feb. 27 for county vehicle maintenance and body repairs, respectively.

— Granted easements to Alabama Power at the McClellan Horse Trails, which will allow the company to establish utility service at the site's campgrounds.

— Authorized use of county land for the Calhoun County Fair, which runs April 19 to May 1.

— Appointed Hess to the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council, effective Thursday. Also reappointed Lynn Smith to the Highland Health Systems Board for another six years.

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560.