GUSTAV AFTERMATH: Debris clean-up to continue till mid-October

Deidre Cruse

A contractor hired to collect storm debris on parish and most municipal roads by Sunday had picked up 140 cubic yards of the stuff, Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said.

That’s enough refuse to stretch five-feet high across more than three and a half football fields, he said. There is a collection cost of $7.50 per square yard. The federal government is supposed to pick up 75 percent of this cost.

Storm debris collection will continue through mid-October, with a final pick-up date around October 15, Ourso said. He said he would put out a letter notifying residents of the date the company, Disaster Recovery Services, will make its final round.

He said he also has hired the company to clear “leaners and hangers,” limbs on storm-damaged trees near parish rights of way. The municipalities of Plaquemine, White Castle, Maringouin and Grosse Tete have signed on to the contract addition.

All the municipalities except St. Gabriel signed on to the original debris collection contract.

Ourso said he is continuing to be bombarded with calls from people complaining that debris is not being picked up along state highways in the parish.

He, in turn, is trying to reach someone in the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) who can prompt some action to solve the problem, he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has told him that “under no circumstances do you try to go pick up anything on state roads.”

“That is not allowable,” the parish president said. “The state has to pick it up. I’ve done everything I can to beat them up.”

Especially in the White Castle area, the state roads are “really, really horrible,” he said.