ALTO, TX (KTRE) - City and state contractors have begun the process of removing mountains of debris left behind by the April 13 tornadoes that tore through Alto.
Visiting the city, mounds of broken tree branches, wood, shingles, paneling, and other debris line the roadways as storm victims begin the arduous process of picking up the pieces and moving on with their lives.
Some of the contractors have been hired from out of state, but many others from neighboring cities have volunteered their time and services.
“We got into action right after the tornado hit; we put 9 units out to take the debris off the street so everything could be cleared," said Greg Duplichain, of Duplichain Contractors. “We had 21, 294, 69 and all the city streets passable by sunset, when the sun went down.”
Based on his experience with Hurricane Ike, Duplichain called the TCEQ the Monday after the tornado.
“When we came in 2008, I remember they had a lot of destruction,” Duplichain recalled. “But nothing of this magnitude.”
Duplichain knew state approval was needed to use his own property as a timber landfill. Since his request, five acres have been opened to the public free of charge.
Cherokee adult probationers also helped remove debris from many yards Wednesday morning.
“We’re just trying to pay back society and help people out,” said Clint Emerson, Cherokee County adult probation supervisor.
Texas Baptist Men chainsaw crews know from so many storms before this tornado how to collect debris to help haulers out. Alto city leaders are making arrangements to bring in roll off boxes. Republic Services, the operator of the Jacksonville landfill, remains available to property owners.
“We have roll-off boxes that are ready to be delivered and mobilized in this area that may need that. We have operators ready for any waste that’s coming in," said James Murphy, general manager of Republic Services.
Even with all the help, the cleanup process has been described as though it could take two years. For now, locals, volunteers, and state contractors will work in unison.
If you are a volunteer or victim of the April 13 tornadoes, the TCEQ has laid out guidelines to what is considered ‘storm debris’ and what will be removed. You can view that list here.
If you’d like to donate to the tornado victims as a whole, KTRE and KLTV have partnered with the East Texas Food Bank and the Red Cross to help those in need. Both agencies are responding to communities impacted by tornadoes and severe weather.
A donation of any amount could help provide food or shelter for our neighbors in need and help put them on the road to recovery.
To donate to the East Texas Food Bank by phone, call 903-597-3663 or 800-815-3663. To donate to the Red Cross by phone, call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669). ¿Habla español? Llama 1-800-435-7669.