After the Tornado: A Money-Making "Scheme" by Local Contractors?

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  City workers are still chipping away at the tornado's damage in Columbus, especially along 13th Street and in the Lakebottom area.

"We've had a full staff out there over the last three days and they've been working overtime but now we'll go back to regular scheduled hours. I imagine there'll be people in the area working for at least a week or two," said Scott Jones, Division Manager for Columbus Urban Forestry and Beautification.

So where's all of that debris going? Tons of trees, stumps, and branches are getting hauled off to the city's Granite Bluff landfill off River Road. Officials say all of the added waste hasn't put the landfill in danger of filling up.

"This magnitude storm doesn't justify filling it up. We've had much worse that we've taken into Granite Bluff so we're still fine," Jones added.

News Leader 9 received reports that local independent contractors were going around to damaged areas to collect debris, chipping it and selling the mulch for profit. But the city's not aware of that.

"There's been no reports of any of that going on," Jones said.

And even local contractors say the cost to run a $50,000 mulching machine would outweigh the profit, especially if you're not getting paid by a homeowner.

"There's nobody out here that's doing the chips for themselves and going and selling the chips. There's not a market for that- you can't hardly give them away. Any of the local contractors around here, the tree services, they're all business owners. They're not going to do this for free," said Jim Young, owner of Stumpman in Columbus.