Ivan service brings thanks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 21, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – Hot barbecue and warm smiles greeted city employees at a noon-time feast in their honor Wednesday at City Landing.

The Rotary Club of Demopolis hosted city employees to the luncheon as a way to offer the club’s thanks for the city’s efforts in cleaning up behind Hurricane Ivan.

“It’s just a gesture of appreciation by the Rotary Club for all the hard work city employees have done after the hurricane,” said Mike Grayson, the club’s president.

Email newsletter signup

With about 50 members, the club pooled its resources to offer the free meal to city workers, featuring now-city councilman Jack Cooley’s famous pulled pig and cole slaw.

“I’m more proud of this [the barbecue] than the 24 years I spent in insurance,” he said with a just a hint of a smile as he served up plates.

City employees were proud of the meal, too. In fact, there wasn’t much fellowship until after plates had been cleaned, it seemed.

“Tell ’em there’s plenty more, Mike,” Cooley said after his serving line had dwindled.

Grayson, of course, made the announcement. “Seconds” passed around quickly.

The club didn’t mind – after all, that’s what the food was for.

Although tightlipped about his barbecue cooking process, Cooley did offer his cole slaw marinated for 72 hours. It didn’t take nearly as long for the city’s workers to finish their meals – most were headed back to work by 12:30 p.m.

It hasn’t taken long for most of those same employees to get the city back in shape after the September hurricane that blew through the area as a Category 1 storm, packing winds of at least 75 m.p.h.

“We’re 90 to 95 percent through with the clean from the storm,” said street superintendent Clarence Brooker.

In Brooker’s tenure with the city, he said Ivan was by far the biggest clean up challenge to date.

“As far as debris, this is the worst,” he said, “a lot worse than the ’93 ice storm.”

He estimates that some 100,000 tons of debris was left in Ivan’s wake.

“There’s still a lot of stumps we have to go, but we’re down to [using] one backhoe for storm debris,” he said.

Under a presidential emergency declaration, the city will receive 100 percent reimbursement for employee time, emergency protective measures and debris clearance. That covers the first 72 hours of the storm. After that, the state and city normally splits a 25 percent match to the federal government’s 75 percent reimbursement on eligible costs.