Wednesday June 20th, 2018 7:13PM

Gainesville waives restrictions on storm debris clean-up, local officials begin assessment of storm damage

By AccessWDUN staff

The City of Gainesville is temporarily modifying its regulations regarding debris removal of limbs and cuttings to help residents that have been affected by Hurricane Irma.  Effective immediately, the City has made the following temporary modifications regarding debris removal:  

1.            Removal of the volume limitation on curbside limbs and cuttings. (Debris must be five feet or less in length and weigh less than 50 pounds)

2.            Removal of the special fee on excessive volume. (This applies to vegetative debris only)

3.            Removal of the restriction on accepting debris from commercial tree trimming operations. (However, if a homeowner hires someone to cut up the debris we encourage them to have the company remove the debris to help expedite the clean-up process throughout the city)

Downed trees must be cut into segments five feet or less in length and weigh less than 50 pounds.

Limbs and cuttings must not be mixed with other debris such as roofing tiles, fence materials, or other items damaged during the storm. Residents are reminded that storm debris should be placed BEHIND the curb and should not be placed on fire hydrants or other yard plantings.

Due to volume, all debris may not be removed from a residence at one time.  Residents are encouraged to be patient during this process.  The removal is expected to take several weeks. 

These modifications will remain in place until October 13. After October 13, the regular fees and restrictions will apply.


Jackson EMC says it had a workforce of 750 on the job Wednesday, made up of Jackson EMC personnel, contractors and additional crews from cooperatives from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, and from Georgia cooperatives GreyStone Power and Carroll EMC.

Hall County was still reporting the majority of the outages, 9,368 members without power as of 1:30 p.m.  Fallen trees and broken poles are slowing restoration efforts, according to a Jackson EMC news release. So far, crews have identified 125 broken poles; 40 have been repaired. The average time to replace a broken pole is four hours. 

At 1:30 p.m., the electric co-op reported 1,270 individual outages affecting 17,829 members, including:

Hall                       9,352

Jackson                2,447

Banks                    1,859

Lumpkin               1,323

Barrow                 1,325

Gwinnett             967

Clarke                  339

Madison              193

Franklin                24

Oglethorpe          0

For real-time outage information, look at the outage map available here: .     

Members can report outages from their computer or mobile device on the website,, or by calling 1-800-245-4044.


Hall County Government employees fanned out across the County Wednesday to assess the damage caused by the storm.  City of Gainesville personnel, meanwhile, were doing the same.

Approximately 30 representatives from various County departments, including Engineering, Building Inspections, Tax Assessors, Fire Services, Sheriff's Office, Parks and Leisure and others, split into teams of two and will be taking pictures of homes and businesses in order to compile a summary of the damage to submit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency  for federal reimbursement.

"We have divided up the teams based on fire districts, and we will cover all 1,100 road miles in Hall County by the time the day is through," Hall County Engineer Kevin McInturff said.  "We'll basically be driving around to see what appears to have incurred minor damage or major damage and what we think looks to be a total loss."

McInturff said all of those participating in the survey process will be in a County vehicle, and he said they will not be entering any homes in order to complete the assessment.

Hall County Emergency Management Agency Director David Kimbrell said the preliminary damage assessment is required in order to receive funding of any kind.

"Once the assessment is complete, we will work to put together a dollar figure to submit to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)," Kimbrell said.  "Once that is approved, it will move to FEMA for consideration for federal reimbursement."

Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Higgins signed a state of emergency declaration for the County Tuesday, another requirement in order to receive federal assistance.

Kimbrell said the funding would be used to reimburse expenses the County and its municipalities incurred during the storm, including overtime pay and the cost of debris removal.

"There's a possibility that we could also be approved as a FEMA Disaster Assistance Center to help out homeowners with the cost of their clean-up, however, individual homeowners should still seek out assistance from their insurance company for any damage they sustained to their personal property," he said.

Kimbrell said City of Gainesville personnel are also participating in the assessment, surveying the properties within the city limits.  He said their assessments will be merged with the ones County personnel are conducting before being submitted to state and federal authorities.

To receive the most current information regarding the County's storm response, as well as other pertinent County information, text the phrase "Hallcounty" to 888777.  You can also report storm damage to GEMA directly here.     


Meanwhile, as all of this was going on, a tree fell across power lines on Washington Street near St. Paul United Methodist Church Wednesday, snarling traffic on the busy west Gainesville street.



  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: power lines, Hurricane Irma, outages, Washington Street
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