The city of Bay St. Louis on Thursday signed an emergency contract with Florida-based Ashbritt Environmental to being removing debris from Hurricane Zeta, and the company should be able to begin cleanup efforts some time next week.

“We did it under an emergency contract so we can get going quicker and start getting this debris out for our citizens,” Mayor Mike Favre said Friday. “Our little grapple truck is working seven days a week, 10 or 12 hours a day. We’re doing the best we can,” but it was necessary to bring in an outside contractor to expedite the process.

The council opened 13 bids on Wednesday, then adjourned until a recess meeting on Thursday to approve the contract.

Council members spent about 10 hours reviewing all the bids, Councilman-at-Large Gary Knoblock said.

“We have an estimate of probably more than 100,000 cubic yards of debris,” Knoblock said. “Altogether with the monitor and everything, the cost will be probably around $30 a cube yard. … “We’re estimating maybe $2.5 million to do all the cleanup and … when all the debris totals start coming in from all the cities, we might make between us — the county and Waveland ... what we’re hoping for is that FEMA (emergency funding) will kick in” to reimburse the funds.

The cost includes a debris monitor, contracted through Debris Check of Pearl River County, which means there will be a person in every truck hauling debris to ensure what’s being picked up is eligible for federal reimbursement.

“We’re very happy” with the contract, Favre said. “And they’re going to hire locals, as well. That’s a good thing, any time they hire local people — that helps the local economy.”

Favre said it’s important for homeowners to begin getting their debris out to the roadside as quickly as possible.

“We want our people to start bringing the debris out and place it in the right of way (in their yards) as soon as they can,” Favre said. “The contractors will not be allowed to go onto private property and remove things with their equipment.”

Favre said the contractors would follow all FEMA guidelines and procedures.

Residents are also asked to use the following guidelines:

• Separate vegetative debris such as tree trunks, branches, leaves from other construction and demolition debris like tile, carpet, drywall, play equipment.

• Do not place debris in bags.

• Pile smaller pieces of debris on top of larger pieces.

• Debris should be in pieces no larger than 12 feet in length.

• Place piles at least five feet from mailboxes, utility meters, sign posts and hydrants.

• Place piles no further than five feet from the road.

• Do not place debris piles directly under power lines.

• Try to consolidate piles with neighbors.

Favre said all the debris should be cleaned up within the next 30-45 days.

The city of Waveland and the city of Diamondhead both advertised requests for proposals for debris removal and disposal services in the Nov. 4 edition of the Sea Coast Echo. Diamondhead will accept bids until 10 a.m. on Nov. 19. The Waveland Board of Aldermen will receive bids until Monday, Nov. 23 and the board will open and read aloud the bids at the special meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Hancock County officials said they are still going through the contract process, but hope to have contractors working within the next week or two.

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