In all the news coverage of the severe thunderstorms and tornados that caused so much damage in east Greensboro late Sunday afternoon, I haven’t seen anything about the damage to the White Street Landfill.
Somebody asked me how a landfill could be damaged, particularly a closed landfill. But although the White Street Landfill is closed to municipal solid waste – what most of us call garbage – it is where the city takes yard waste, like limbs and downed trees, and construction debris.
So along with everything else the city had to do on Monday, April 16, it had to get the White Street Landfill up and running again so there would be somewhere to take the massive amount of trees and limbs that were being cleared, as well as all the parts and pieces of damaged buildings.
Like just about everyone, I had seen the videos of the damage in east Greensboro. But seeing it in person I found it to be even worse than it looked on TV. Nealtown Road, which runs in front of the White Street Landfill, was hard hit. It seemed like every house either had a tree on top of it or part of the roof gone.
Citywide, a total of 1,007 structures were damaged with 37 of those being destroyed.
I have to admit I was somewhat puzzled by the fact that because three schools had been severely damaged on Sunday, and on Monday 15 schools were without power, that all 126 public schools in Guilford County were closed for two days.
Guilford County School Superintendent Sharon Contreras agreed that it might sound odd but explained that it wasn’t the damage to the schools that caused them to call off school for all 72,000 students, but the large number of streets that were impassable. She said that Guilford County had such an extensive magnet program that students ride buses all over the county, and that there was no way the buses could get down many of the streets.
Contreras also said that the last thing the crews trying to clean up the debris and get the streets open needed was a fleet of school buses blocking traffic and getting in the way.
She agreed that it was something like having a snow day when most of the streets in Greensboro are cleared but enough are still icy to keep schools closed.
Peeler Open, Hampton and Erwin Montessori elementary schools will not reopen this school year. The student body of each school will be transferred to a different school for the remainder of the year, but the classes will have the same teachers, just in a different building. The school system is trying to cause as little disruption as possible for students whose schools were destroyed by the tornado.
It seems like every organization in the city has a program to help. I’m not going to try and list them, but if you’re interested in helping there is an organization ready to accept your donations, whether it is of water, food, goods, money or services.
Gov. Roy Cooper toured some of the most heavily damaged areas on Monday and said something I found surprising. He asked people out there with chainsaws clearing trees to be careful and use the proper safety equipment. Usually what you hear is “wait for the authorities.” It’s a sign of how severe the damage was that in this case the government is saying wear the proper safety equipment and don’t get near any downed lines unless your certain they are dead, but don’t stop working.
Duke Energy District Manager Davis Montgomery added a little to that – reminding people that in an event like this, even cable television wires can become energized by being in contact with a downed power line. He warned those out in the effected areas that any wire can be live, even if under normal conditions it wouldn’t be. He also said that with so many substations damaged by the storm it would take more than a day to get electricity restored.
It is going to take time for the neighborhoods damaged to get back to some degree of normalcy, but with the number of people helping it may not take as long as predicted.