MARIGOT–Fourth Vice-President in charge of the Collectivité’s Sustainable Development Department Steven Patrick, said Monday it isn’t fair to compare the progress of the French-side’s clean-up after the hurricanes with the Dutch-side’s effort, as the French side sustained considerably more damage.
“If you consider that 90 per cent of buildings on the French side were damaged, we have 10 times more debris to process and remove than the Dutch side had,” he insisted.Patrick was responding to the perception the French-side clean-up is going far too slowly, since the initial all-out effort immediately after Irma passed. He acknowledged the clean-up is a monumental task, but work is still “proceeding normally” on a daily basis.
That said, not counting the boat yards, two-and-a-half months after Irma the main road through Sandy Ground and on into Baie Nettle, two of the worst affected districts, is still strewn with debris on either side of the road and burnt-out or damaged cars. He estimated the sides of the roads would be cleared by mid-December.
The Collectivité designated 11 temporary sites to store debris from the hurricanes and most of these “mountains” still need to be cleared. The site at Albéric Richards Stadium in Sandy Ground, however, looks to be half-cleared already, and the one in Grand Case.
Patrick admitted progress is being slowed by businesses dumping their trash or hurricane debris onto the side of the road, a punishable offence, instead of taking it to the eco-landfill.
In addition, hurricane debris has to be sorted for re-cycling and separated from household trash, causing more delay. A truck is passing three to four times a week to pick up mattresses, fridges, and other big items, he noted.
As of October 30, 8.2 million euros has been spent on the clean-up, Patrick noted, a figure that is still rising. Some 2,000 tons of Zinc and 18,000 tons of household debris (furniture, mattresses, fridges etc.) have already been removed. In September and October, 42 contractors and equipment were working, but that has now been reduced to about 15.
“That’s partly due to the cost and because there would be too many trucks on the road, hampering the traffic flow,” he reasoned. “Also, the trucks cannot work faster than the landfill’s ability to accept the debris. It’s already at full capacity up there.”
Patrick was cautiously optimistic that most of the debris mountains would be removed by January 2018.