Wednesday, March 8, 2017



March 8, 2017

 To: Chatham County Manager’s Office and County Commisisoners

            Re:       Solid Waste Services for Property Damaged by Hurricane at 9902 Ferguson Ave.


Dear Mr. Smith,

INTRODUCTION:  I have not yet had the privilege of meeting you.  Thank you for your commitment and all you do for our county.

            My firm represents the property owners, families and residents of 9902 Ferguson Avenue, Marsh Point Homes.

We also represent Savannah Real Estate Investments, Inc., the Management Company for Marsh Point Homes―a residential Mobile Home community located at 9902 Ferguson Ave.


RESIDENTS: The residents consist of 191 families. These hardworking folks are mostly low income or laborers, many are skilled laborers. The park residents own their own homes (modular /mobile home). They each pay tag/taxes/fees on their homes to Chatham County.

MANAGEMENT: Marsh Point Homes is well managed. The owners takes pride in it being one of the cleanest, best kept and safest parks in the county.  The management company employs 2 property managers, a maintenance staff, security, a book-keeper and many outside vendors.   

LANDOWNERS: The park / subdivision is locally owned. The property owners own many other residential and commercial properties and pay substantial property taxes to Chatham County.


This letter is to notify you that solid waste services are needed at the 9902 Ferguson Avenue property. This request has been made repeatedly over the last 4 months.

As a result of Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016, this residential mobile home park experienced serious and devastating damages. Over 125 trees were damaged or destroyed/killed throughout the entire 37 acres.

 Complete trees failed and large limbs failed:

Ø  Damaging and destroying the homes of many families
Ø  Blocking roadways

Ø  Destroying:
ü  power poles
ü  Electrical boxes and meters
ü  Septic tanks, drain-fields
ü  Water systems and water lines.


The hurricane and wind damage “deductibles” on the homes exceed the costs of repairs to the homeowners, so their homeowner policies paid nothing.

The insurance policy of the landowners did not cover the mobile homes, because they are owned by the residents.

FEMA denied the request for assistance.

The landowners have spent over $150,000.00, out of pocket, on tree removal (from roads and homes) and sewer repairs from the storm. The homeowners have experienced substantial out of pocket costs for their home repairs due to falling trees.

The management company leased commercial generators and had the water system up for the families within hours and days before Georgia Power arrived.

Following the hurricane the county voted and approved service to the landings and other gated and private communities?

We are told by the county that mobile homeowners will receive no county debris removal service?


What do the tax payers receive in county provided services for their taxes?

Most utilities are NOT available at 9902 Ferguson Avenue.  Unlike the landowner’s properties located in Savannah City limits, this property receives almost no services.

The landowner pays property taxes. The residents / families pay Mobile home taxes, tags and fees.

Ø  NO COUNTY WATER: The property does not receive county water. The owners must provide their own well and water system. Last year alone over $100,000.00 was spent on the well system.

Ø  NO COUNTY GARBAGE SERVICE: The Park pays a private refuse company each month.

Ø  NO COUNTY PROVIDED SEWER SYSTEM:  The Park owners have a self-paid septic system and drain fields provided to each home owner.

Ø  NO COUNTY PROVIDED ROAD WAYS: The landowners paid for all paving, resurfacing and roadway maintenance.

Ø  NO COUNTY PROVIDED FIRE SERVICES: The landowners pay a separate fee for fire services to an outside vendor.

Ø  DRAINAGE DITCH MAINTENANCE: The county-owned drainage ditches are almost always in need of lawn service and cleaning. Often the landowners performs these services at their own expense.

Why should my clients have to load and remove the remaining hurricane debris, haul it to the dump and pay a fee to the county for dumping it? This debris removal service was provided to the landings and other gated communities by the county at no cost?

Again, what exactly do the landowners, families/residents receive for all of their county paid taxes?


Since the storm in October, 4 months ago, the county has only visited the property once. At that time, County employees told residents that they would return to remove the remaining branches and debris.

 It is now March of 2017, as of today, the county has not returned to assist with the clean-up, as they promised the homeowners.

The county has been contacted on numerous occasions by the management company to no avail.

Homeowners and residents who have contacted the county have been told that the County will not return. The County stopped all cleaning after the first of February. They reported to residents that they were “so busy that they never had a chance to stop by the mobile home park”.


County employees are telling the residents that the Management Company is responsible and that the homeowners can take my other clients to court and win.

The county is neglecting the property, failing to provide services and County representatives are frivolously offering legal advice?

In addition employees at the county are telling the management that trailer parks are not serviced by the county. The county and its vendors have been seen collecting hurricane debris in other mobile home parks.

The landowners, residents, homeowners and families all pay taxes and deserve the same services as other communities within the County.


On behalf of the landowners, families and management company, we are requesting that a County representative be sent to the property as soon as possible to complete the removal of the debris.

            We would like to show the homeowners that the county is equally concerned with its low-income neighborhoods as they are the wealthy gated communities.

The solid waste division should handle the debris removal clean up that is genuinely needed for our residents.

I am confident that this is simply an error or a misunderstanding and the County leaders will step up and resolve this matter. Please help us to resolve this issue immediately.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. 

Make it a great day!
 Howard E. Spiva
Howard E. Spiva,

cc:       Robert W/ Drewry, Director, Public Works, Solid Waste Division,  
            R. Jonathan Hart, County Attorney, 
            Jennifer R. Burns, Assistant County Attorney,  
            Albert J. Scott, Chairman 
            Commissioner Helen L. Stone, District 1,  
            Commissioner James J. Holmes, District 2,  
            Commissioner Bobby Lockett, District 3,  
            Commissioner Patrick K. Farrell, District 4, 
            Commissioner Tabitha Odell, District 5,  
            Commissioner James “Jay” Jones, District 6, 
            Commissioner Dean Kicklighter, District 7,  
            Commissioner Chester A. Ellis, District 8,  
            Michael A. Kaigler, Assistant County Manager,
            Linda B. Cramer, Assistant County Manager,

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Profits over Safety on Savannah's Streets ~ Elba brings in 7,800 trucks a month!

Profits over Safety on Savannah's Streets

Recently my office appeared at a public hearing to oppose Elba island's expansion.

We have been challenging Elba island's safety for decades. The explosive gases have known histories around the world.

One major concern we had was the large number of trucks on our City streets... first we were told 85 dump trucks a day and then we later learned it is 325 loads of dump trucks every day !!!

They are taking two routes: Interstate 16, Lynes Parkway, DeRenne Avenue, Truman Parkway to the island; and Interstate 95, Abercorn Street, Truman to Islands Expressway.  

Please keep your family and loved ones off these routes.

“The first stage is expected to last about six months, and we are now one month into the work of delivering fill material to Elba Island,” Kinder Morgan

We were concerned and predicted these would create traffic hazards. Unfortunately has become true.

While large dump trucks can haul 28,000 pounds, most carry slightly less. Many smaller dump trucks can haul about 13,000 to 15,000 pounds. Dump trucks often weigh about the same amount as their load capacity. For example, a fully loaded dump truck carrying 14 tons of material usually weighs about 28 tons!!!!!!

This week there was a wreck at Abercorn and Rio with one of those dump trucks hitting an 18 wheeler.

The road was closed for hours due to a hazardous oil/gas spill from the truck(s).

Recently there was another wreck with one of those dump trucks resulting in a broken neck and a tragic death. Destroying families.

Kinder Morgan just lines their pockets with profit, while Savannah and our citizens must pay for this with traffic delays, property damages, injuries and deaths?  
 ~ Attorney Howard Spiva

The drivers are paid by the truck load and encouraged to hurry. 

Rumor has it that drivers have a quota or get docked pay.
More like told they have to get so many loads a day are there pay is cut by the people who own the truck. I have been in construction over 30 years if they don't make their load count it can be the difference in a $250 check are $600 check. It's not fair for the drivers and it's definitely not safe. ~Donald Heavyd Lyons

Reports of Dangerous driving... Friends posted on face book... 

today When we got to 95 & 204 just before it hits 2 lanes , we had to practically stop to let NOT 1 but 2 dump trucks fly by us heading to the pit just a few miles up... my friend actually works @ the pit so I called her & asked her where the hell are all these trucks going in such a huge hurry = Elba Island..

Dunno if it was one of THOSE dump trucks or not but there was a dump truck barreling through the Jenkins HS zone this afternoon probably doing twice the 25 MPH speed limit there.

My suggestion: Everyone please video and take pictures. We can use the evidence.

Why not hire companies with new trucks and make them slow down...why not haul the loads at night when streets are not crowded?

Does this increase Kinder Morgan's profits to hire sub standard?
Many of these trucks are not in the best of  mechanical shape and don't have modern equipment. Some are too old for black boxes. All these heavy trucks  up and down Abercorn/204, Derenne Ave, and president street. .. are dangerous.

Sadly these tragedies/traumas will likely continue.

profits over safety!

If these companies are not held accountable the harms and losses will fall on the families and victims and the public through taxes.

The purpose of a lawsuit is to make the at fault party, who is responsible for an injury or damages, “financially accountable” and not put the burden or costs on the family or the tax payer.


There are many lawyers. Only some of them will file a law suit.

There are even fewer who are successful in the courtroom.

We wish you the Best of luck!
The Spiva Law Group is dedicated solely to the representation of injured and families of deceased persons.

Make it a great day!
Howard Spiva (email) (web page)
(912) 920-2000


See the news story on 7800 trucks per month

Posted December 6, 2016 10:36 pm - Updated December 8, 2016 10:32 am 

LNG expansion at Elba brings in 7,800 trucks a month

Work continues on the LNG facility on Elba Island despite federal officials postponing a decision on a request to look into environmental consequences of the project. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)
Expansion began last month at the massive LNG facility on Elba Island even though a request for a rehearing of the project’s approval is still pending before federal regulators.
Houston-based Kinder Morgan owns the LNG import facility on the Savannah River where site work began Nov. 1 with the ultimate goal of adding export capability. The $2.3 billion project includes the installation of 10 modular units that will convert gaseous methane to a liquid, reducing its volume 600-fold and making it suitable for export in specially designed tanker ships.
A steady stream of 325 dump trucks a day six days a week now ferries fill and gravel to the site. That rate of nearly 8,000 trucks a month is expected to continue through April.
“The first stage is expected to last about six months, and we are now one month into the work of delivering fill material to Elba Island,” Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley wrote in an email. “Following completion of this initial stage, we estimate truck traffic volume will decline to a level of about 1,500 trucks per month versus the current level. Trucks operate during the daylight hours, six days a week, Monday-Saturday.”
Causton Bluff resident Bill Thomas’ house backs up to Elba, giving him a clear view of the construction traffic on Elba Island Road.
“Sometimes there’s as many as four trucks bumper to bumper,” he said.
The dump trucks are bringing in 375,000 cubic yards of fill and gravel from local sources, including Martin Marietta and Lanyard Development. They are taking two routes: Interstate 16, Lynes Parkway, DeRenne Avenue, Truman Parkway to the island; and Interstate 95, Abercorn Street, Truman to Islands Expressway.
The routes are planned to avoid downtown Savannah and peak traffic hours, Wheatley said.

Regulatory limbo
As the trucks roll in, opponents of the expansion find themselves in a regulatory limbo. In early August federal regulators postponed a decision on their request to take a more in-depth look at the environmental consequences of the project. The local chapter of the Sierra Club and others hold that the health, safety and property risks posed by the addition of liquefaction to the 86-billion gallon storage facility were not adequately addressed in the environmental assessment.
That postponement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission comes with no deadline for making that decision, and it does not prevent Kinder Morgan from moving forward. It does, however, prevent the project’s opponents from bringing legal action. Regulations require a decision on a rehearing before they can file a lawsuit.
It’s a catch-22, said Stacey Kronquest, an executive committee member of the Coastal Group Sierra Club.
“The tolling order means they can indefinitely consider the request while the project is being built, she said. “This isn’t due process; we can’t do anything here.”
She’d prefer an outright denial of the rehearing request.
“A denial is fine, so we can proceed with the administrative process of appealing,” Kronquest said. “The law states we have to have an answer to the rehearing request before can move on.”
Kronquest along with three other local residents wrote to their Congressional representatives for assistance in bringing this conundrum to FERC’s attention. U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican, responded by restating the problem.
“An official of FERC tells my staff the order you are referring to does not mean a rehearing was granted. It simply extends the time for FERC to consider their request. … In addition, this order does not stay action on the project. This means that other orders authorizing work can be granted and acted upon.”
Kronquest replied, telling Carter he misunderstood.
“Our request to you was not to explain this to us, but rather, as our representative in Congress, to urge the Commission to fulfill its due process obligations to your constituents by issuing a timely final order on our rehearing requests.”
She hasn’t heard back.
Both U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and U.S. Sen. David Perdue did understand the request, however. The senators’ offices forwarded the concerns to FERC, requesting a review of the information.

Federal regulators gave Elba a general go-ahead in June and then in October gave specific approval to begin site work including preparation of the upland area, relocation of a containment area to hold dredge materials and the testing of piles.
On Friday a permitted, controlled burn of debris from Hurricane Matthew sent black smoke into the air over the site. Contractor Tri-County Construction Co. has already removed half of the debris. Georgia Forestry Commission and Chatham County supplied burn permits for an 8-acre area. Tri-County expects to complete the burning by Dec. 13, said Environmental Protection Division spokesman Kevin Chambers.
Concern about the number of trucks traveling in and out of the site during construction led to a plan by Kinder Morgan to bring in aggregate fill by barge. That’s not happening. The company abandoned that plan, instead opting to route the truck traffic so as to avoid Bay Street. Pilings are being delivered by barge but they represent a smaller portion of the deliveries.
The initial phase of work at Elba also includes the demolition of five buildings on site, Wheatley said.
The project overall is expected to be completed in early 2019, with initial liquefaction units scheduled to go into service in mid-2018. The finished expansion will include 10 “moveable modular liquefaction units” with a total liquefaction capacity of 350,000 million cubic feet per day, ancillary equipment to support the liquefaction process plus pumps and compression for delivery into the tanks and loading of ships.
Elba’s liquefaction project is supported by a 20-year contract with Shell to export the LNG. Shell also developed the train-car sized liquefaction units, which Elba will be the first facility to install.


With over 30  years of handling catastrophic injury cases I am often contacted by friends and family of someone who just had a horrible injury or even death in the family.

I am always at a loss of how I can respond to their concerns about the spouse or the children of the victim.

I as an attorney and they as a family member do not want to intrude on the grief or the hectic situation that often turns the family upside down.

But sadly I often see 3 situations

1) The defendant (frequently an insurance company or trucking company or other corporation) are busy gathering or hiding or destroying evidence.

This includes things like locating and interviewing witnesses, taping over or losing videos and disposing of property damage.

It is very frustrating because I know our investigator and attorneys could be protecting their rights, while they are attending to their loved ones medical situations, children, loss of income in the household, a destroyed car or worse funeral arrangements.

Why are people made to feel sleazy if they have a lawyer working for them immediately after a tragedy?

Meanwhile insurance companies and businesses are expected to have a team of lawyers and experts, 24/7 and often at the scene before first-responders.

Recently we had a catastrophically injured client crushed by a fallen object. The defendants removed the object before the ambulance picked up our client!

2) Unethical attorneys and hired runners are contacting and soliciting people who they don't know often at the hospitals in the ER or places that they aren't thinking straight.

The scariest part is the lawyers who engage in this kind of conduct are usually the least experienced or most ill equipped to handle such a serious case.

3) Many people make the decision of hiring a lawyer based on a TV or other marketing strategy.

All I will say is that after 30+ years of litigating serious cases, I have never seen a lawyer who does heavy TV marketing in the court house.

Trust me adjusters don't pay top dollars to non-trial attorneys.

Have you ever seen a TV lawyer talking about a record jury verdict? Nope they brag on $100K settlements (in the type of wrecks that we collect millions).

Many times we have been hired after the client fires such low skilled lawyers and we find additional insurance coverage missed by the first lawyer.

I wish I could accomplish 2 things:

1) Find an acceptable way for people to communicate with their family and loved ones about getting an experienced lawyer immediately after a tragedy.

or better yet

2) Convince people to do research and their due diligence and make a lawyer selection in advance "just in case of tragedy"; like they do for estate planning and other important decisions.

I guess I can dream.

Please watch this short video to learn more:
WINNING YOUR CASE: 21 Questions You MUST ASK Before Hiring a Lawyer

Never settle for less!

Howard Spiva

A Proud supporter of
The Justice for Children Foundation
Children's injuries are no accident