Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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After brief pause thanks to Nicholas, East Baton Rouge debris removal resumes

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BATON ROUGE - After two days of rain curtailed debris pickup, either substantially or completely, crews were back at it again Thursday.

"Given the rain event, we're only a day or two behind," Darryl Gissel, chief administrative officer for the city-parish, said. "We were fortunate with this last storm that we just got rain. I'm sure that's going to add some to the debris piles."

Ahead of this week's rain, Gissel said roughly 100,000 cubic yards of debris had been picked up since the effort started last week. On average, crews are collecting 20,000 cubic yards of debris daily.

"We have a new contract for debris pickup so that we have way more units on the street," Gissel said. "We have seventy units out picking up debris."

The "beefed-up manpower," Gissel says, will allow for more efficiency, compared to the same effort following the freeze in February.

"We had so much competition trying to get trucks in, everybody was fighting for the same units," Gissel said. "Adding extra units in, extra vendors, has helped us a lot."

With the effort just a week old, many homeowners are still waiting for the piles to be picked up. Officials say areas with the most damage may receive attention first. Along any specific route, all piles should be picked up at once, but on the first pass, priority may be given to larger piles.

"The smaller piles are the issue," Gissel said. "The hand piles get to be a real issue because they can't just scoop it up like they can the big, large stacks."

Homeowners are encouraged to bag leaves instead of keeping them in a pile, Gissel says. Residents choosing to hire a contractor to handle tree or yard damage must have that company haul debris away.

Commercial property owners are also required to handle debris removal on their own.

Weather permitting, city-parish officials say a conservative estimate for having all debris collected is around Thanksgiving. That timeline would mean the entire process would take about twelve weeks, in total. However, Gissel says the expectation is to have the vast majority of debris piles picked up well before then.

"We think that is a far, extended time frame," Gissel said. "We think that we're going to be able to cut that greatly. This is really an experiment in terms of how the new contract works and how quick we can push these groups."


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