IOWA DERECHO 2020

Cedar Rapids finishes first pass of clearing tree debris from streets

Crews will continue clearing debris through the rest of the year

A crew from Jamey Flannery Trucking works Aug. 26 to clean up debris from fallen trees along Kilimanjaro Drive NE in Ced
A crew from Jamey Flannery Trucking works Aug. 26 to clean up debris from fallen trees along Kilimanjaro Drive NE in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Crews in Cedar Rapids have completed their first pass of collecting tree debris dragged out to the public right of way — a milestone reached in over two months of cleaning up after the hurricane-force derecho.

While the initial pass focused on clearing bulky debris piles to make roads more accessible, additional passes will focus on picking up debris from smaller streets such as cul-de-sacs, dead ends and private roads, as well as returning to areas with a high volume of debris that crews missed in the first pass, Public Works Director Jen Winter said.

That work is expected to take crews into the winter months.

The volume of remaining tree debris differs in each neighborhood, Winter said, so there is not a set number of passes still to go. The city has not yet set a cutoff date for residents to place tree debris in the right of way, Winter said, but a date will be announced later based on the amount of remaining material.

Crews have hauled nearly 2.4 million cubic yards of debris so far.

“The second pass will be much more of a clean sweep in my opinion than the first pass, which was just kind of a heavy haul,” said Taylor Burgin, the city construction engineering manager. “And then the third or fourth pass will be more of a location-by-location type situation.”

About 29 percent of the city’s streets also have had a first pass of nonorganic debris collection and work is underway in another 10 percent of streets.

Homeowners should place nonorganic debris separately from tree debris at the curb in front of their house, off the street and sidewalk.

Wisconsin-based Jamey Flannery Trucking, the city’s high-volume tree debris removal contractor, typically has 45 to 50 crews working to clear streets, Winter said. The number of city crews also varies, but she said they have focused on areas where they have projects to finish for the year to clear any remaining debris on those routes.

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The city is continuing to tag right of way trees for removal or for hazardous limbs to be trimmed, Winter said. So far, crews have removed 660 trees and trimmed over 15,000. The public will see an orange tag stapled to the tree if it eventually will be removed.

Residents may view the real-time location of crews on the city’s updated map online at cedar-rapids.org/tree_debris_removal.php. The map also shows the location of trees removed and trimmed on the current day and displays the number removed or trimmed overall.

While crews will return to each street additional times, Winter said residents may use the website to report locations they feel portions of a street or a whole street were missed.

The city’s burn ban remains in effect. Winter said many properties still are awaiting repairs and there are concerns that fires could spark. The Fire Department is allowing liquid petroleum gas and natural gas fire pits, but no wood-fired recreational fires.

“We did decide to extend the burn ban, really just for safety because there’s still so many damaged structures that are being worked on throughout the city,” Winter said.

Comments: (319) 398-8494; marissa.payne@thegazette.com

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