Burning debris helping Laurel Co. cleanup

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

Friday's tornado in Laurel County left quite a debris trail. Trees and homes lay scattered around like litter on the side of the road.

In most places, now, the trash is sorted into three piles: building debris, recyclables, and brush, and the county has wasted little time getting these off the roads and out of the way. The building materials are being taken to the landfill, while the items like water heaters and other appliances will be recycled.

"The quicker we do it the better," stated Laurel County Judge Executive David Westerfield, "today, we have moved in excess of 150 loads of trees."

"We're working right along, and we're making progress," added Emergency Management Director Abby Hale.

Their rush in progress is largely attributed to a piece of machinery called a "wind curtain," that burns debris at a high temperature while controlling the flames.

Even more, the location of the burn site, is in the heart of the debris field, keeping the trucks from hauling for long distances and creating shorter, quicker trips with full loads of debris.

"It will burn every bit of that by daylight," pointed Hale to the large piles of trees and brush.

"That's the reason we've gotten as far as we have, today," said Westerfield.

Governor Steve Beshear took a tour of the area and credited the crews in Laurel County with being one of the quickest counties to clean up.

"The governor was by earlier, today, and applauded us on the good job we're doing," described Westerfield, adding, "I feel like we're ahead of some of the other counties."

The crews have been working around the clock, since the tornado struck, and they didn't stop tonight. They brought in portable lights and another wave of crews to keep burning the large brush.

"We're not going to give up. We're not going to quit. We're going to do what we have to do to continue moving forward," stated Hale.

The county says this progress has ignited another fire of its own, in East Bernstadt. It's given a fresh fire for the spirits of the victims and offers hope that this will all be behind them, soon.

At this time, this is the only burn site in operation. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the county to start up a second site, which will open after the job is done at the current location.

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