Debris Removal Update

Latest Hurricane Debris Removal Update
Posted on 02/07/2019

Are you wondering why storm debris isn’t being picked up? The answer is rather complicated but the hold-up is due to FEMA not approving the City of Bainbridge and Decatur County contracts with outside vendors. At this point, FEMA has not denied the contracts they have just not approved them. We are very frustrated by this but there doesn’t seem to be much we can do to move the process along. The city and the county have been working closely with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and with our congressional delegation to try and get things moving but so far we have not had any success. Late yesterday we received the following message from FEMA in response to our numerous inquiries:

As you know, in October 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the State of Georgia’s request for Direct Federal Assistance, via the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for disaster-related debris removal in 13 southwest counties. These counties include Baker, Calhoun, Crisp, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell and Worth counties. 


Direct Federal Assistance is approved when the volume of disaster-related debris presents an unsurpassable obstacle to recovery and is beyond the capabilities of a local government to remove. Once the immediate threat to public health and safety has been eliminated, debris removal operations are assumed by local governments and remain eligible for reimbursement through FEMA’s Public Assistance program. 


The USACE debris mission for Hurricane Michael ended on January 18th but FEMA continues and will continue to support recovery efforts throughout Georgia. Currently, FEMA is transitioning the debris mission back to the 13 counties and the state to manage. The other 56 counties declared for Public Assistance have been conducting their own debris removal using available local or State resources and contractors.   


Although the USACE debris mission has ended, please be assured that FEMA, USACE and the State continue and will continue to assess the debris situation to ensure that all eligible debris is addressed throughout the 13 counties.    

As you can see, this doesn’t tell us much. We will continue to push as hard as we can but at this point all we can do is ask for your continued patience. We are very grateful for the work that GEMA and our congressional delegation are doing to assist us in this endeavor.

Normal Leaf and Limb Debris Removal Update:

City of Bainbridge crews are out and are actively picking up piles of yard debris. The city is however, limited in the size and amount of debris that it can handle with existing equipment. Normal yard piles will be picked up as the city operates its regular routes. Large piles of storm related debris may be too big for city equipment (anything greater than four feet in length and/or greater than four inches in diameter) and will therefore have to wait until the city gets approval from FEMA to begin utilizing storm debris removal vendors. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work towards a resolution.

Previously, the city had requested that residents finish storm related clean-up by January 27. To date, we have not actively enforced this deadline due to the on-going issues with FEMA. We had also informed residents that the city would resume enforcement of normal rules governing work completed by tree removal or landscape companies. These rules require that all such companies be licensed by the city and that the company handle the removal and disposal of debris generated by the job they were paid to complete. Beginning Monday, February 11, 2019, City Marshalls will begin active enforcement of these rules. Tree or landscaping companies found to be in violation of these rules will be cited and will be required to remove any debris they place on the city right of way.

We understand that this has been a long and frustrating process. It has been for us as well. The city is fully engaged with our federal partners and with our congressional delegation as we work towards a final solution. Rest assured that any storm related debris that has already been placed curbside will be picked up and disposed of. Also be assured that your normal leaf and limb yard debris will also be picked up and disposed of by the city.