The city of Mt. Juliet has finally completed cleanup from the March 3 tornado and is moving swiftly through the cleanup process for the subsequent storm.

Public Works Director Andy Barlow announced Thursday that the tornado cleanup is officially finished. The city contracted DRC Emergency Services to perform systematic searches through the city and collect debris. The firm completed its sweeps through the city this month and made its final offload of refuse for disposal.

In the aftermath of the tornado, the cleanup process — long and arduous as it was — cost the city about $1.4 million in total according to Barlow. There remains a possibility of outstanding oversight charges in addition, but they aren’t expected to bring the total cost much higher than the figure Public Works is reporting.

“That is a lot. Reimbursable from FEMA; I’ve heard that there are some varying amounts but up to 75% — another 12 and a half% from the state as well, so those are all great things to actually get that finished and out of the way,” Barlow said. “I know I’ve talked with many residents who were extremely happy to see that debris removed and to begin this new chapter of our lives here.”

The city owes much of the reimbursement opportunity not only to FEMA itself but also to Thompson Consulting Services, a monitoring agency whom the city contracted to help it maximize the reimbursement options available. The final cost for the post-tornado mop-up, however, comes well under early projections wherein Public Works initially reported an expected total of $2 million.

Earlier this month, the Board of Commissioners also passed an ordinance originally sponsored by Commissioner Ray Justice and Vice Mayor James Maness to waive all rebuilding fees for tornado victims. In so doing, the city has endeavored to not only clean up the mess but also make it as easy as possible for residents to reclaim the lives they had prior to the storm.

The process incurred a significant setback, however, when the city was besieged by an entirely separate storm that dealt significant damage in early May. Public Works increased personnel numbers after the heavy storm to help manage vegetative debris pickups. Now, the aftermath of that storm is just reaching the conclusion of its first phase of cleanup, though still with more work to be done.

“It’s a pretty impressive debris pile from that as well from that,” Barlow said, “and we’re just taking vegetation. So on that, we should be finishing that up. I’m sure there’s some other material out there that we’ll have to get on our second pass, so just be patient with us as we move through that.”

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