OUR OPINION: Debris removal concluding with dramatic, positive work

In less than two weeks the now-familiar and welcome huge trucks and other equipment hauling away the debris created by the powerful tornado that ripped a 30-plus-mile swath through Lee and Itawamba counties will move on to new contract jobs, with their work having dramatically improved appearance and safety in the tornado’s path.

Debris removal in Tupelo and Lee County, as previously announced, concludes July 26, after several hundred thousand cubic yards of tornado trash of virtually every description has been hauled away.

The areas cleared of debris will make it easier for property owners to repair and rebuild residences, but the removal also starkly highlights what’s missing from a landscape formerly covered with a lush canopy of trees enveloping homes and landscaping.

It also more clearly reveals the extent of recovery and repair work undertaken, an encouraging fact for long-term recovery.

As has been the case since the debris removal started, cooperation in following some clear-cut rules helps removal move forward:

• Residential property owners in Lee County and Tupelo who sustained damage as a result of the tornadoes, severe storms and flooding have until July 20, 2014, to place eligible disaster-related debris at the right-of-way (curbside) for pickup on July 26, 2014. That placement deadline is a week from today.

• Storm debris, including stumps and root balls, placed at the right-of-way for removal should be divided into the following categories:

• Household garbage

• Vegetative debris

• Household hazardous waste

• White goods such as refrigerators and dryers

• Electronics

Some debris is ineligible for hauling:

• Construction debris

• Concrete slabs

• Sidewalks, patios, pools or driveways

• Debris removed from agricultural land, unimproved or undeveloped private property

Also, debris removal is for residential properties only.

Debris left by contractors is not eligible for pickup.

As has been the case throughout the recovery, city, county, state and federal employees and agencies have been remarkably helpful for thousands of people seeking answers and assistance.

Residents who have questions about debris sorting or debris eligibility should contact, in Tupelo, the Tupelo Public Works Department, at (662) 841-6457; and in Lee County, County Administrator Sean Thompson at (662) 432-2020.

Residents needing volunteer help may call the United Way of Northeast Mississippi at (662) 687-2735.

In terms of damage – but thankfully not in loss of life or numbers of serious injuries – the April 28 tornado was the most powerful natural disaster to hit Tupelo and Lee County since the EF5 killer tornado of 1936.

Our community and county are indebted to thousands of people for assistance in getting on our feet and on our way to recovery.