FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The January ice storm has passed, but the mess remains.
More than 11 million cubic yards of debris - enough to pile up 8 feet high on 10,000 basketball courts - was left in the wake of the crippling winter killer. Although the roads have been cleared, fallen trees and branches still dot an otherwise picturesque landscape.
Now the debris removal mission set in motion by Kentucky's worst modern-day natural disaster will be augmented by an annual endeavor: Commonwealth Cleanup Week (March 25-31).
The yearly spruce-up effort emphasizes reducing and recycling roadside litter. Last year, more than
5,000 people participated in Commonwealth Cleanup Week. Kentuckians picked up 14,860 bags of trash along 1,846 miles of roadway - cleaning up 26 dumps statewide. Volunteers also recycled 337 appliances and 3,956 tires.
Those inspired by the statewide initiative to clear remaining debris on private property, however, should temper their zeal with caution.
Of the 36 people who died as a result of the ice storm, two deaths were attributed to falls and four more to cardiac arrest.
With those fatalities in mind, here are some safety tips:
- If using a chainsaw, follow the manufacturer's instructions and wear safety glasses.
- Leave work on roofs to professionals.
- Take care driving. Kentuckians are now sharing roads with trucks making frequent stops while picking up debris.
- Don't be overly ambitious. Debris, particularly large tree limbs or trunks, can be extremely heavy. Disasters are stressful enough without taxing cardio-vascular systems.
Residents who want to dispose of storm debris on their property should contact their local emergency operations center for instructions. Property owners should recycle when possible and separate storm debris for curbside pickup or hauling by local government.
Kentucky restricts open burning. It is only permitted in limited circumstances and under specific conditions.
If you need help and can't afford it, contact your local emergency management official. He or she will put you in contact with a faith-based or civic group who can provide assistance.
The Kentucky General Assembly created Commonwealth Cleanup Week in 1998. The fourth week of March was designated as a time for Kentuckians to help improve their communities.
The Energy and Environment Cabinet's Division of Waste Management oversees the annual cleanup. For more information visit www.waste.ky.gov/ccw/. Cleanup Week is conducted in partnership with the Transportation Cabinet's Adopt-a-Highway Program cleanup, which is scheduled for March 25-31. Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup continues from March to May.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.