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HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Sort, haul, repeat. That’s the job now in Madison County’s storm-battered areas as contractors hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begin hauling debris from the April 27 storms.

First, property owners will see crews from companies such as One Stop Environmental LLC of Birmingham. One Stop was already working on Ford Chapel Drive Friday morning.

One Stop has six crews of six people each in Madison County sorting debris piled in front of homes and businesses, said foreman Robert Daniel of Birmingham. Household chemicals and gasoline, electrical items, vegetation, white products such as refrigerators and stoves – all must be sorted for safe disposal. Sorting companies like One Stop are trained and have special permits for handling toxic materials.

Property owners can separate debris into piles themselves, or the sorters will do it. Sorters and haulers are restricted to debris no farther than 10 feet from the road, according to Corps of Engineers spokesman Billy Birdwell.

Removal contractors will make three sweeps through the county, Birdwell said. The sweeps will be spaced out, so people can expect trucks twice the size of normal garbage trucks on the county’s roads for some time.

“We want to do it fast, but we have to do it right,” Birdwell said.

Madison County’s power grid got a boost Friday when TVA completed a second power transmission line into the city. There are now two large lines supplying power to the city and serving as backups for each other.

Huntsville Utilities said the system is still “fragile” and will be for several more weeks. The utility asked customers to continue conserving power where possible.

Property owners continue to apply for FEMA assistance in Madison County. In Madison County, the number is now up to 14,315 from 12,465 on Monday. In Limestone County, 1,965 have now applied compared to 1,689 on Monday.

FEMA is stressing that assistance is available for all storm damage, not just tornado damage, said spokesman Don Bolger. FEMA has two disaster recovery centers in the immediate Huntsville area: Monrovia Church of Christ, 595 Nance Road, and the Limestone Events Center, 114 Pryor St., Athens. Both are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Volunteers are expected back in the field across North Alabama today, but official coordination efforts are diminishing. In Madison County, the United Way has already matched calls for assistance with crews for today, and the office will be closed Sunday. Crews are still being sought for the weekend of May 21-22 because calls for help are still coming.

In Limestone County, the United Way office will be closed today. Volunteers were out Friday despite stop-and-go rain across the region. TVA sent 60 Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant workers into Limestone and Madison County and 1,400 out across Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. TVA paid the workers for the day, but allowed them to volunteer instead of reporting to work.

Help is still needed in smaller communities across the area. Volunteers can work in Marshall, DeKalb or Jackson counties or go to Franklin and Marion counties southwest of here. Saturday’s weather forecast shows a 50 percent chance of rain during the day diminishing to 20 percent Saturday night.

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