Storm debris making a mountain of mulch at Horry County landfill

Last week's ice storm left behind tons of debris and the Pee Dee and Grand Strand are still a long way from getting it cleaned up.

Much of what has been collected so far is ending up in what may be the busiest spot in Horry County, a section of the Solid Waste Authority landfill set aside solely for dumping what was left behind by the most damaging winter storm to hit the area in years.

Grand Strand landscaping contractors have been swamped.

"It's nonstop since Thursday, all day every day," said Andrew Fortner of Keifer Lawn Service in Surfside Beach. "Trees, branches, leaves, just basic storm debris."

Nearly 300 trucks a day come through the landfill gates, loaded just with storm debris. The landfill has taken in around 1,900 tons of the yard waste since last Thursday and that number just keeps going up.

"I anticipate it going on for at least 30 to another 60 days with the cleanup," said the landfill's director of operations Bill Hilling. "When you ride around the area, what you see out there, there is an enormous amount of debris still out on the streets."

All that yard debris is being ground up into what has become a mountain of mulch over the past week.

"A lot of it is made into compost. The other that is ground up we'll use it and sell it for boiler fuel," said Hilling.

Anyone can buy the compost for $20 a ton. If you suspect the Solid Waste Authority is making a nice profit from that, Hilling says it's not true. The storm cost the authority a lot of money.

"With the extra crew we had to bring in, and we're bringing in like five extra folks on Saturdays and Sundays, just to handle the storm debris."

Fortner has all he can handle cleaning up after the storm and he knows the job is far from over.

"You know the phone keeps ringing, so we'll keep working," Fortner said.

Hilling says homeowners can take their storm debris to any of the 24 county recycling centers, which have extra containers on hand and are open longer hours to accommodate.