Hurricane Matthew debris cleanup nearly complete in Jasper County

JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - Jasper County officials say the road to recovery is almost complete after Hurricane Matthew caused minor flooding and knocked down dozens of trees, even closing a county road.

They say debris pick up on state roads is almost complete, and now they're using a vacant lot to break it down and turn it into mulch.

"Mostly, it was just trees, trees limbs and stuff. We had some big trees block the county roads, but we were there pretty quick. I think the state roads faired far worse," said Dale Terry, Director, Jasper County Engineering Services.

That's why Jasper county officials called in reinforcement to help speed along the recovery process.

"We have a debris management contract that works under the county for county maintained roads, and we also have a monitor company to monitor when they come to pick up trees and things off the roadways," said Wilbur Daley, Director, Jasper County Emergency Services.

Those trees are taken to Cypress Ridge Industrial Park, and there are about nine trucks out and about collecting the debris, but the constant operation isn't cheap.

"In the vicinity of 350K total for the county, a lot of the large majority of that is personnel costs for bringing people in for the responses and part of the recovery process that includes the cost of our debris removal," said Ronnie Malphrus, Director, Jasper County Administration Services.

Overall, Jasper County didn't sustain as much damage as neighboring counties, but officials say Hurricane Matthew is a learning opportunity.

"Our opportunities we have now to learn from - is how to manage people is one thing - and we need to have our finance department involved in it as well. I reckon you can say it's detrimental to any county if not handled correctly," Daley said.

Another area the county wants to improve is in response time. The director of engineering services says having a person from the power company during the emergency plan would have been helpful in the tree removal process because they wouldn't have had to wait for the power company before clearing trees.

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