North bay fire debris cleanup is '99 percent complete'

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Mike Williams has his future in his hands. He pounds on it with every nail. That is the luxury of being a contractor, rebuilding the house your family lost. "Life for me will always be before the fire and after the fire."

Mike and his family have endured a long seven months, beginning with the trauma of firestorm night. FEMA and the California Office of Emergency Services shed some light on how they managed California's biggest clean-up since the 1906 earthquake Thursday.

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"I think everyone overestimated the size, scope, and scale of the magnitude," said Mike Ghilarducci, the Director of California's Office of Emergency Services.
The state and federal government spent $1.3 billion removing 2.2 million tons of debris, If spread out, that would cover 314 square miles. You can still see some of the waste from Highway 101 in Santa Rosa, where a mountain of crushed concrete rises like a small Matterhorn above Recycling Solutions, one of seven debris dump sites in four counties.

The pile of fire-ravaged cars there might take your breath away. They tower almost two stories tall, covering an area the size of a football field.

"Could you even imagine the number of cars here?" ABC7 News asked Kristyne Byrne, who speaks for the company.

"I have no idea," she said.
FEMA revealed one small secret: Why it chose to clear Coffey Park sooner than other areas.

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"Flat topography and access," said FEMA coordinating officer Bill Roche.

Some reviews of their work came in mixed.

Mike Williams notes inconsistencies from lot to lot. "They left concrete foundation piers in the ground, left it uneven in places. Those contractors were making good money. If I had to give them a letter grade it would be average or below average But, at the end of the day, they got it done."

And, he already has his new home framed.

One might call it progress with some figurative splinters.

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