As gusting winds and torrential rains from Hurricane Matthew blew through Myrtle Beach, S.C., leaving homes, businesses, trees and piers in its wake, the extreme weather also destroyed the outer shell of the city’s solid waste transfer station.
At first glance, the city originally thought the building that covers the solid waste transfer station would cause the facility to be shuttered for at least two weeks for electrical and structural repairs, but a quick response and lack of damage to the equipment inside saw the facility up and running the next day. (It’s just one example of how waste and recycling professionals throughout the region responded to the hurricane.)
Mark Knuea, spokesman for the city of Myrtle Beach, says the 44-year-old shelter was no match for the strong winds from the hurricane.
“It crumbled like an aluminum can,” he says.
Fortunately, says Knuea, it was just the shell of the building that was affected. The station sits atop a 40-ft., manmade hill. Hauling vehicles drive to the top of the hill and offload into a mechanical compactor that compresses waste that is then passed along to tractor trailers for transport to landfill. The machines were updated within the past 10 years and needed just a bit of re-wiring once the outer building was removed, he says.
The southeastern United States was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew as it proceeded up the coastlines of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Matthew made one official U.S. landfall on Oct. 8 southeast of McClellanville, S.C., as a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds.
Knuea estimates the transfer station suffered $330,000 in damages, and he adds, the city will need to build a new cover for it at some point. For the moment it is functioning. Solid waste and recycling collection also is on its regular schedule. However, contractors will be picking up debris daily, as needed.
Matthew, the first hurricane to make landfall in the state of South Carolina since Hurricane Gaston in 2004, also caused many large trees to be uprooted in the Myrtle Beach area, Knuea says.
The city has had crews out since Oct. 9, working around the city and on the beaches to clean up what was left behind from the storm. Approximately 10 crews are working to collect the debris, he says.
Storm debris, including C&D and yard waste, will not be sent through the transfer station, says Knuea. As part of planning for these types of events, the city crews and hired companies will handle the vegetative waste, which will be sent to a central location and eventually ground into mulch.
“Cleanup is going fairly well,” he says. “We lost a fair number of trees and limbs in the city, not much property damage – ballpark $10 million in property damage to residential, commercial and public spaces, but we lost a fair number of trees.”
Last fall, when the flooding events happened in the area and across South Carolina, similar cleanup was done.
All the city trucks and equipment were spared by the storm, Kneau says. Once the city gets through storm cleanup, the department of public works will likely get started on a new shelter for the transfer station.