Feb 19, 2016

‘Wild’ wind wreaks havoc with mats at landfill

High winds recently made
a mess of some reclamation work at the Powell landfill.

On Feb. 6, gusts of up to 50 miles per hour ripped up sheets of erosional matting from the ground and rolled them up into massive, tightly-wound tubes — some measuring around five feet high and hundreds of yards long.

“It’s wild the way it did it,” Park County Landfill Manager Tim Waddell said of the wind’s handiwork, adding later, “Once you see it and think about how heavy that crap had to be, you would think it would have just picked it up in big sheets and and blew it away.”

Recent high winds somehow pulled up and rolled up acres of erosional mats at the Powell landfill, leaving bare soil behind them. The roll was about five feet tall in some places. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker

“The wind must have just caught it just perfectly right for it to happen the way it did,” added landfill office manger Sandie Morris. “Mother Nature is amazing.”

Landfill staffers working that Saturday did not see the mats getting rolled up, so “it either went extremely quickly or very slowly,” Morris theorized.

The matting was used to cover some reclaimed piles of old trash, a final touch on a $1.44 million reclamation project at the landfill east of Powell. The product is designed to hold in a seed mixture and moisture and — Waddell added with a rueful laugh — is supposed to keep wind from blowing away the soil it’s covering.

The matting — which was fastened to the ground with eight-inch metal staples — worked well in the reclamation of the Meeteetse landfill, Waddell said, and he thought it would work well in Powell, too.

“We probably haven’t had a 50-mile-an-hour wind event in three or four years, and, of course, as soon as you do, something like this (happens),” he said.

Replacing the erosional mats could cost upwards of $100,000, he said. The county is investigating what exactly went wrong and is submitting a claim to its insurer.

Waddell said that if insurance won’t pay for replacing the mats, the county may opt to go without them and simply re-seed the soil.

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