Monday morning Anthony Rodgers showed up to his job as a brush collector for Knoxville and found a large amount of work piled up around the city.
"We left out about 7:15 this morning. It has been a little bit more [brush] than usual after last week's weather, but not as much as we had last year around this time when we had the storm."
Unprecedented storm damage overwhelmed city crews and contractor Shamrock Organic Products with yard debris. The massive amount of material added fuel to the fire at Shamrock in April that filled the city with smoke for more than a week.
Knoxville temporarily stopped taking material to Shamrock after the fire, but resumed its contract a few weeks ago after the facility implemented several safety changes.
The current mounds of storm debris provide the first test for the mulching operation since the April fire.
"When the storms hit, the first things I thought of was how Shamrock was going to handle the storm debris," said David Brace, Knoxville Director of Public Service. "We have been making sure their capacity is good, the piles are within the limits, and everything has been fine."
Shamrock Organic Products owner Randy Greaves told 10News in a phone conversation the current debris "is not even a blip on the radar compared to the 2011 storms."
"The contractor now has very specific limits on processed and unprocessed material," said Brace. "He [Greaves] is processing and we're going to monitor. If there are any issues or non-compliance, we'll take action."
Brace said the fire provided a lot of lessons to prevent future emergencies. One change is a "first in, first out" rule.
"The first-in and first-out deal says brush is processed as soon as it gets to the site and then that material is moved off the site in the same order it arrived," said Brace. "It keeps things moving and makes sure you don't have material that sits for long periods."
If knoxville ever gets too much debris to keep things moving at Shamrock, it will soon have an official secondary vendor to accept collected brush.
"In a couple of weeks we'll start a bid process to get a contract with a secondary contractor," said Brace.
Under the new system, Brace said several city employees and inspectors will ultimately determine when to shift debris from Shamrock to another location.
"Obviously, we're going to err on the side of health and public safety for the community," said Brace. "That's our responsibility as a city."