Process To Remove Storm Debris Could Take Months

By Jeff Neumeyer

July 2, 2012 Updated Jul 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Fort Wayne city officials are saying last Friday’s severe storm packing straight line wind gusts of more than 90 miles per hour felled at least 500 trees.

Jeff Ling, who runs Tree Masters Incorporated, thinks the actual total could be ten to twenty times that many.

Whatever the number, the situation presents a major challenge in terms of clearing the debris, a job that could take up to three months to complete.

Ling says workers for his company, which performs tree removal services, has been working overtime since the high winds caused widespread power outages and damage Friday afternoon.

Ling says that the tree problems could have been minimized if more property owners took careful inventory of the trees on their land, and then took steps to cut down, trim, or manage trees at risk of toppling or splitting under the stress of high winds.

City parks and public works officials are comparing the limb and tree damage to the 2008 ice storm here in the city.

The job of chewing up downed limbs and tree trunks is a big one indeed.

The city is asking property owners with such debris to move it to the curb in front of their homes, rather than push it out into the street, where it can hamper other clean-up efforts.

The city encourages folks to take debris to one of four drop off sites, though bringing it to the curb is another good option.

" The people that can are doing it. For those that aren't able to do it, the city will come through, but it's going to take us up to three months to do it. So, it might be there longer if the citizens don't take care of it, but the city will be coming through and picking everything up," says Bob Kennedy, Ft. Wayne’s Public Works Director.

Those sites include the Swinney Pool parking lot, the Tillman Dump on the south side of town, Shoaff Park near the Cocklin Pavilion, and the biosolids facility at 6210 Lake Avenue.

The collected material will be put through wood chippers, and then disposed of at the biosolids site.

The city's main Internet website will soon include a collection schedule, showing what part of town crews will be working in, on any given day.

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