IOWA DERECHO 2020

Is that tree my responsibility? And other questions about tree cleanup answered

Jeremiah Hawkins puts up a ladder Friday to get on the roof of a neighbor's house as he, along with Patrick Marx and Rob
Jeremiah Hawkins puts up a ladder Friday to get on the roof of a neighbor's house as he, along with Patrick Marx and Robert Estabrook, work to remove and cut up a large tree off Phil Roger's house in southwest Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

In the aftermath of the derecho that pummeled the Cedar Rapids area, we asked readers: What questions do you have about storm recovery?

Many questions came in about tree cleanup. Reporter Erin Jordan reached out to city officials and other experts to help answer your questions. 

Will the city be picking up other large debris besides trees?

Cedar Rapids crews will start picking up non-tree storm debris next week. They will prioritize busier or more critical streets first, but will return multiple time to neighborhoods to pick up debris, City Spokeswoman Emily Breen said. This is for storm-related debris, such as shingles or siding, not bulky items residents had been trying to get rid of before the storm. Non-tree debris should be kept separate from tree debris.

I had a large tree fall in back yard and alley. Is the city or National Guard going to clear trees in alleys?

Cedar Rapids residents need to get tree debris to the curb, near where they usually put garbage cans on pickup day. If residents choose to hire a contractor to cut down trees or remove branches, they do not have to pay the contractor to haul the wood away. As long as residents can get the wood to the curb, the city will haul it, Spokeswoman Emily Breen said. “We cannot go onto private property to remove tree debris,” Breen said.  

If a tree from an easement has fallen on my property is it considered the city's tree? Does it matter if the tree became unattached or not?

Should a tree come down that was planted on city right of way near someone’s home, “If it falls the city’s way on the street or something, the city’s responsible for it; if it falls toward the home, then the homeowner is responsible for it,” Tom O’Meara, executive director for the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa, told The Gazette last week. The exception would be if the tree was dead and had a big X and an orange circle around it but wasn’t removed.

Roofing and tree removal contractors are booked for weeks and even months. How do I find someone to fix our roof and remove a dangerous tree? 

The Iowa Roofing Contractors Association has a “find a contractor” site where users can plug in their zip code and find nearby contractors. Justin Sullivan, executive secretary for the association, said a “local” contractor in this case might be someone from Mason City, Des Moines or even southern Minnesota. Many of these roofing contractors already have teams in Cedar Rapids. Before choosing a contractor, research the company online and ask representatives if they are licensed in Iowa and have insurance. The Better Business Bureau has other tips for hiring a contractor.

» For more information about trees and debris, the city created this list of answers to frequently asked questions.

Have other questions about storm recovery? Ask them in this form, and we'll try our best to answer them.

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The Gazette is using Hearken’s community engagement tool to collect your questions. Readers will get a chance to vote on which ones they want us to answer. And we’ll get answers and write stories about them.

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