City of Florence approves emergency ordinance to address debris, water bills

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – The City of Florence is working with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to recover from Hurricane Matthew. The city passed an Emergency Ordinance that will allow them to speed up the cleanup process.

While following FEMA guidelines, the city plans to start the process of finding a contractor to help clean up debris from Hurricane Matthew.

The Emergency Ordinance passed by City Council requires the city to hire a contractor to properly dispose of down trees and branches. City officials say Hurricane Matthew created about four years of debris, which is too much for the city to dispose of in a timely manner.

Now,  the city asks for residents to be patient and work with crews as they try to clean up the massive amount of debris.

Drew Griffin the Florence City Manager said “One of the most important components is residents getting that debris to the right of way. The Public Assistant program authorized through FEMA does not allow the city to enter private property.”

“They’ll bring that debris to the right of way. From there the city will collect and dispose,” Griffin adds.

City officials say the goal is to have debris cleaned up in about two or three months.

City of Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said the city plans to release more information and resources for the next phase of cleanup efforts on Thursday.

The Emergency Ordinance also includes a section addressing resident’s water bill.

The City of Florence had eight major water line breaks wasting up to six million gallons of water for three days as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

City officials say they will count that water as a loss.

While they also realize many down trees in neighborhoods may have created smaller water line break which will create very high water bills. The city is now working to develop a plan to address those impacted by small waterline breaks.

Griffin explained, “We recognize that it is a hardship. We recognize that the bill has to be correct. So, we think an average bill or something that approximates and average bill will be close to what we’ll work through. Then we will work with others on a case by case basis.”

The water bill that will reflect Hurricane Matthew will be the December bill cycle because the November bills read the water meters before Hurricane Matthew.


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