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Washington County Workers Big Part Of Tornado Cleanup
Updated May 5, 2013 1:06 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(UNDATED) - It's been a month since tornadoes swept through Washington County and crews from the Washington County Highway Department have been working in the Pekin area ever since.

"Those guys have done a fantastic job," Dave Brown, president of the Washington County Commissioners, said. "They have been down there every day since day one. They are working for all they've got."

Marica Walker, of the Salem Leader, reports Phil Lofton was one of five truck drivers hauling debris from the area around Robbs Lane and State Road 335.

"We took 10 loads yesterday and 10 the day before that," Lofton said. "We've been on this side of 60 ever since the tornado. It just keeps coming."

Lofton explained that employees of District 2 are concentrating on the south side of State Road 60 with employees of District 1 on the other side, which includes Hurst Road and the Daisy Hill area. Employees from District 3 have been working around Fredericksburg, where the tornado first touched down and several residences were damaged, but also lending a hand in the Pekin area as well.

"I feel like we're making progress but it's taking a long time," Lofton said. "People are trying to get their lives back together."

On Thursday, workers were loading stumps to be taken to the county landfill. The stumps cannot be burned in the incinerator on Hurst Road.

Mike Goering, director of the county's solid waste district, said so far, the landfill has been able to keep up with the amount of debris being taken there.

"The first of the week is busy, everyone is working on weekends," Goering said, adding business slows down as the week progresses.

Immediately after the tornado hit, county officials were concerned that the amount of debris might alter the expansion schedule for the facility, which calls for another cell to be added next year.

"Initially, I thought we might have to build (a new cell) this year, but based on survey data between when the storm hit and now - updated data - I think we'll be OK until next year building the cell," Goering said.

According to figures provided by Jerald Shanks, acting supervisor of the Washington County Highway Department, since March 5, the highway department has spent almost $37,924 in equipment costs, a figure that includes both fuel and man hours.

During the two days following the tornado, $18,055 was spent on labor, overtime by highway department workers.

"At the end of March, we've hauled 791 tons to the landfill at no charge to the property owner," Shanks said.

In addition, county workers have hauled 117 tandem loads of trees and brush and 140 single axle loads to the incinerator in Pekin, also at no charge to the property owner.

"We've had three backhoes down there working in Pekin, two grade-alls in that area working," Shanks said. "We've had the 'dozer down there, and all the dump trucks, from 15 to 18," Shanks said. "All this has been at no charge to any of the property owners. The county has absorbed it all."

Shanks added that county trucks have also been in the Fredericksburg area, "where the tornado first started, in the Horner's Chapel area."

Brown commented that damage in Washington County is spread out over an 18 to 20 mile area. He said at some point, the county will have to pull some of the trucks for the other districts, but will still keep some trucks in the Pekin area.

"We're getting ready to have another town meeting and call everybody who has been effected by the tornado," Brown said. "We want to make sure we don't miss anybody."



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