Little Rock, AR -- As Arkansans begin the massive cleanup from the December ice storms they need to be aware of guidelines concerning debris removal and be wary of contractors claiming to work for government entities.
City, county and state governments are not authorized to remove debris from private property except where extraordinary threats to human health and safety may exist. This policy protects the liability of both the workers clearing debris and the property owner.
Property owners should make sure they don't block the right-of-way or obstruct fireplugs or utility meters. They should not block drains and ditches to avoid flood damages.
People who are physically unable to move debris to the curb should contact their local government. There are several civic and church organizations working throughout Arkansas that are willing to assist people with special needs in debris removal.
If debris is too large, property owners may need to contact a contractor. Before hiring anyone, they should check with their insurance company to find out if their policy covers debris removal. The state and federal government do not recommend or endorse any contractor. Property owners should be suspicious of any contractor who says, or presents literature, saying that they are working for the state or federal government.
According to the Arkansas Attorney General's office, a contractor can only charge 10 percent more than they paid for materials, and only 10 percent more than they typically charge for the same labor under normal conditions. If you suspect price gouging or fraud is happening to you, or in your community, contact your local sheriff's office, your local emergency manager, or the Arkansas Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-482-8982.
Arkansans who have damage to their primary residence should call the toll-free FEMA application number at 1-800-462-9029 (TTY 1-800-462-7585). If they have questions concerning debris removal in their area, they should call their local city or county government.