Clean-up is beginning in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s the news residents in Columbus have been waiting for. The city has passed a motion to move along with debris removal.
Tree limbs, furniture, and trash have formed mountains on the side of the streets in Columbus.
“It’s depressing for me when I have to ride through there. So, I can imagine how depressing for them, and they have to come home to this every day. You gotta watch your kids; they can’t get out and play you know. It’s coming upon us to do something,” said Ward 5 Councilman Stephen Jones.
A contractor has been lined up to take care of the rubble. And now the city has given them a notice to proceed.
The reason it took so long boiled down to money.
The city has been waiting for a federal declaration. They have now decided to take action while they wait.
“We owe it to the citizens to, whereas if you’re referring to the financial standpoint from the city standpoint, you know people say the city is broke. The city is not broke, but at the same time our finances are not where they were this time last year, but at the same time we owe it to the citizens to whereas it’s going to have to be removed one way or the other,” said Mayor Robert Smith.
“Well we’re going to have to borrow the money, and hopefully the president will go ahead and sign the declaration, and we can make up the difference. But it means there’s no way around it, we’re going to have to borrow some money. You know they have an emergency fund that we can borrow from, and that has a real low-interest rate, and it’s going to have to be done you know there’s no way around it,” said Jones.
The debris piles are becoming a health and safety hazard.
“The time of year snakes are coming out, rodents, you know, staph infections. Kids are trying to play. We don’t want to wait until a child gets bit by a snake to say, ‘oh man we should’ve picked that up a long time ago.’ So we gotta do something,” said Jones.
The removal process will start off slow. But the pace is expected to pick up if the disaster declaration comes through.
“I hope to God that he will go ahead and sign it. So, in the meantime it’s our fiduciary responsibility as the mayor and the council to not let those people live in those conditions the way they are at the present time,” said Mayor Smith.
The city said crews will make three trips to pick up the piles.
They are encouraging residents to get their debris out to the road as quickly as possible.
They do understand that some areas are too full and residents will have to wait until the first round of removal.