St. Tammany Parish begins burning debris from April tornado

SLIDELL, La. (WGNO) — A pile of tornado debris from eastern St. Tammany Parish goes up in flames.

However, officials with the public works department ensure that an air curtain will limit the ash in the air.

“The air curtain blows the air on top of that which keeps the fire rolling efficiently but also keeps the smoke and ash down. We have excavators going and only grabbing a scoop full. We don’t want to just put in a massive amount of green debris because then the fire will pick up a little bit quicker,” said St. Tammany Parish spokesman Michael Vinsanau.

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The parish brought debris dump sites after Hurricane Ida to centralize the pick-up process during a weather disaster.

Vinsanau says it will cut down public works’ drive time.

“Can come pick up the debris, drop it off, and get right back to the Slidell area. We have spots all over the parish. We purchased a couple of additional debris sights and got them approved with DEQ guidelines. So, now our response will be faster for any situation like this,” said Vinsanau.

A resident who lives along Old Spanish Trail, where the tornado touched down in April, has noticed the differences.

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“We got the butt of it, but yeah I think they are doing a pretty good job now. Now they are starting to fill out like the drainage ditches, and I see across the way by the snowball stand they are starting to fill them all up,” said St. Tammany Parish resident Monique.

Debris will burn for the next few weeks as residents wrap up their recovery.

“There may still be some tarps on roofs while families try to get back to normalcy, but I think the overwhelming majority of people have stepped up. Probably within two to three weeks, people were back to normalcy the schools were reopened and power was restored within a couple of days,” said Vinsanau.

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