Thursday’s Lula City Council work session was dominated by a lengthy discussion of the mess left behind by Irma that left approximately 2,800 city residents without power for the better part of two days.
“It’s going to take weeks to clean up,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said. “The good news out of all this is that no one was hurt.”
As the wind and rain picked up Monday, Bergin said he sent the city’s five employees home at noon and had them come back in the evening,
“We counted 56 trees down and then stopped counting,” Bergin said. “You could hear trees falling on people’s yards. It was scary.”
Mayor Milton Turner joined the small city staff to help clear trees from streets. Understanding residents have just been through a rough stretch, Turner extended Friday’s deadline for paying utility bills without incurring a $10 late fee.
“People may not have power back yet,” Turner said. “It’s something less to think about.”
Although the city did not lose water, Turner said he was a little concerned.
“You know we only have those two wells that’s on a generator…” Turner said. “I was very concerned if we had a fire.”
Bergin said a big issue to address is communication. He could not communicate with the county emergency services or the power company and they could not communicate with him because power was lost to the cell tower.
“We learned a lot from this storm,” Bergin said. “We’ve all become reliant on our cellphones and our land lines and the internet. That’s what our lives have become, and for us we can’t have a communication between a lot of our hardware that we have up there on the field… We were basically blind. That was a big issue.”
To aid with the cleanup effort, the city is waving several limits on the amount of debris that can be put out for pickup during the next 30 days. The city also is increasing collection service and frequency.
Residents should place trees and limbs at any time as close to the curb as possible without blocking traffic or sight line of traffic, according to city officials. Although the quantity of yard waste is not limited, piles should be no more than six feet long, four feet high and three feet wide per month.
The city also will run the wood chipper every week at a minimum and remind residents that pickup is every third Monday of the month.