Debris removal teams nearing completion of first pass

“It’s been going great,” Brian Fulton says of the ongoing task of removing storm debris from city rights of way. “The contractors are nearing completion of the first pass of the entire city, and the second pass will begin later this week.”

Fulton is with Neel-Shaffer Inc., a firm the city hired to oversee its three teams of contractors hauling debris from city streets to two sites north of Interstate 10.

Debris removal efforts lost 2½ days to the threat of Hurricane Rita, Fulton said, and as many as 100 of the original 300 truckers hauling debris have left for debris-removal contracts in Louisiana.

As of this evening, 16 days into the chore, more than 400,000 cubic yards of debris had been hauled from throughout the city. The amount of debris moved would cover a football field and stand 19 stories tall, Fulton said.

By the end of the week, the debris teams expect to have located a site to dispose of so-called “white goods” — refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves, microwaves and air-conditioning units, which may contain environmentally-sensitive substances that require special handling.

“We’ve been leaving those for the time being, but we’ll be picking them up throughout the city once we identify an approved site,” Fulton said. “Meantime, we’ll continue working seven days a week, 12 hours a day to get the debris removed from the public rights of way.”