On August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene made landfall along the North Carolina coast with winds reaching up to 85 M.P.H leaving widespread devastation that stretched up the entire Eastern seaboard. Some of the hardest hit areas were the North Carolina counties of Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Pamlico and Pitt. In its wake, the hurricane swamped coastal families in waist-high water and left more than 600,000 people without power – a bruising that would take the region days, if not weeks, to heal.
A massive clean-up effort was imminent, and Vaughn & Melton Consulting Engineer’s personnel played a significant role in that effort. Vaughn & Melton (V&M) served as a prime consultant for the North Carolina’s Department of Transportation’s Disaster Recovery Storm Debris Removal Monitoring and Inspection in Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Pamlico and Pitt counties.
“The destruction in these counties was catastrophic. Many communities were almost virtually wiped out in a day. It’s hard for pictures to fully capture the true amount of damage,” said Michael Calhoun, V&M Project Manager.
Initial efforts focused on identifying monitoring personnel, available mapping and staging areas for debris removal. Once NCDOT called for Vaughn & Melton’s assistance, trucks and monitors were mobilized over a period of six days including a holiday weekend. V&M utilized 18 debris removal monitors and nine personnel from Volkert, Inc. who served as a subconsultant on the team.
The first stage of the cleanup consisted of clearing the public right-of-ways as local residents pushed their storm debris to the curb. Calhoun noted counties were wise to make certain that FEMA rules and protocol were well understood before work began.
V&M’s primary responsibility was providing monitors to observe and document the proper collection of debris by the Contractors from the hurricane’s aftermath. Tasks included taking pictures of each truck load of debris removed, monitoring the Contractor’s activities for the correct type of debris removal, providing either cubic yard or weight ticket measurements and recording GPS coordinates of each load to document the removed debris location.
Within four months following the disaster, massive amounts of vegetative debris had been hauled from the counties to area landfills.
In addition to Calhoun, another V&M employee who played a key role included Eddie Pridemore. A V&M Construction Inspector and U.S. Army Reserves Sergeant, Pridemore has a vast amount of experience with disaster response initiatives having been deployed to many catastrophic-impacted areas around the world. For this project, he was responsible for coordinating the debris monitors day to day activities with the Contractor while Calhoun managed day to day staffing and communication with NCDOT.
On behalf of the NCDOT, V&M’s work consisted of evaluating damage to road right-of-ways and coordinating their cleanup. This effort involved not only FEMA but also the Federal Highway Administration.
“Our V&M clean-up team knew one thing. As with any disaster, one feels a need to help your community,” said V&M Regional Vice President DeWayne Brown. “They worked with local contractors, got immersed in the job before them, and provided a useful service to the victims of the hurricane. I’m extremely proud of each and every member.”