Some areas in the parish saw nearly eight inches of snow before it all melted away, but what it left behind were tons of tree limbs and twigs. It's a problem officials in Tangipahoa Parish never thought they would have to face. "Although many of the trees were able to withstand the wind from Gustav, the heavy snow on the branches was a different story," Burgess said.
Parish crews started cleaning up debris December 12 and will be working for several weeks. "Parish employees have been steadily working on cleaning up the parish, which draws time from other work," Burgess said. The parish owns one chipper and a second one was rented to help. However, a third one may be needed. Cost for rental of a chipper is $4,000 a month. "We didn't have budget for this," Burgess explained. "It could very easily run into $1 million."
Burgess said despite Governor Bobby Jindal's declaration of federal emergency following the snowfall, it is doubtful the federal government will agree when you compare Louisiana's snow experience to that of other areas. Burgess and council members are asking parish residents not to bring yard debris resulting from the snow to road sides for pickup by the parish. "If residents can find other ways to dispose of the waste, it will be very helpful to the parish at this time," Burgess said. For residents who have already brought debris to the road and for residents unable to dispose the debris in any other manner, the parish will be picking up green waste only.
In other business, council members approved a resolution for funding to improve first-responder communications through the purchase of 335 new 700 megahertz radios. The estimated costs of the radios are $625,000, and will be paid with state funds approved through Congress for hurricane recovery following Hurricane Katrina.
Tangipahoa Parish is set to receive $2.17 million and a pre-application for the radios has been approved.
The resolution paves the way for submission of the actual application. The parish is also waiting for a response on a second pre-application submitted for a $1.2 million Parish Disaster and Distribution Center. If approved, the facility will keep emergency supplies such as MRE's, tarps, water and sandbags so the parish can better assist with both pre- and post-disaster needs."The center, which will contain a climate controlled area, will act as a receiving terminal for the parish," parish government spokesman Jeff McKneely said. "Supplies will be funneled to local distribution sites where the public can go to receive supplies," he added.