Mattress Mack's $1 million March Madness bet still alive in Louisiana

Ascension begins collection of vegetative hurricane debris

Aaron Looney
An unidentified motorcyclist drives down Sanders Street in Gonzales Monday afternoon while cleanup crews work to clear debris in the neighborhood. Parish government signed a contract last week to begin removing debris left by Hurricane Gustav in the unincorporated parish and the municipalities of Gonzales and Sorrento.

The Ascension Parish Council voted in a special meeting Thursday in Gonzales to enter into contracts with two firms for debris removal in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav and monitoring of the removal process.

The removal contract went to Unified Recovery Group LLC, of Baton Rouge, while engineering firm CDM will monitor the collection, Chief Administrative Officer Cedric Grant said.

Unified Recovery Group will be paid $6.50 per cubic yard of vegetative debris it collects, according to the contract.

Parish officials had said that the debris removal process was set to begin Friday, but strong winds from Hurricane Ike hampered the process. Crews were to resume work beginning in the Sorrento, Gonzales and St. Amant areas once the winds subsided.

Grant added that the parish is currently seeking 25-acre sites it can use to hold the debris removal crews, which will be chipping the vegetation.

“There will be multiple rounds to pick up debris, so residents don’t have to put everything out at one time if they can’t do so,” Grant said.

Martinez said Thursday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would reimburse at least 75 percent of the cost to collect and monitor the debris collection.

Martinez added that while the current collection only covers vegetative debris such as tree limbs and branches, bushes and leaves, the parish is working on obtaining contracts to accomodate the collecion of other items, such as white goods and construction materials. He urged residents to divide their debris into separate piles to expedite the process.

While Gonzales and Sorrento signed intergovernmental agreements to take part in the program, Martinez said, Donaldsonville decided to hire L.C. Amsuma Contractors of New Orleans to remove its debris.

“Donaldsonville decided to go its own way with debris removal,” Martinez said when asked why the city was not part of the intergovernmental agreement.

According to the contract, Donaldsonville will pay Amsuma $18 per cubic yard of debris collected.

Rick Webre, director of the parish’s Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness agency, said that there is approximately 1 million cubic yards of storm debris throughout the parish.

Martinez said that the state Department of Transporation and Development will remove debris from state highways.