Storm Debris Amount Rivals Ice Storm

Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 5:16 pm
Alice Dreger

Above: East Lansing’s Sanitation/Recycling Lead Worker Ken Johnson with the storm debris, courtesy City of East Lansing

The City of East Lansing announced today that debris pick-up from the July 8 storm is wrapping up and the Department of Public Works (DPW) is returning to normal operations. In response to the announcement, today I contacted Cathy DeShambo, East Lansing’s Environmental Services Administrator, to learn more about what will happen to all those downed trees, what the cleanup will cost, and whether residents can get help with replanting trees along the street.

Remember the ice storm of late 2013? DeShambo says the severe thunderstorm that visited East Lansing on July 8 of this year produced as much vegetative debris as that other historic weather event. DeShambo says fewer than 50 City-owned trees were lost this time, but it appears many more private trees were downed by the storm.

“The current debris pile is estimated to be about 3,400 cubic yards of storm debris,” DeShambo told me, and “the debris pile from the ice storm was estimated to be roughly in this same range.”

Where will all that debris go? According to DeShambo, “We are currently obtaining quotes from a number of sources to process the debris that we have here at DPW. The debris from the ice storm was chipped and used for alternative fuel. We are looking at a similar process this time but we are still in the planning stages. However, the intent is that it will be ground and reused. We partnered with MSU for some of the processing of the ice storm debris and we are talking with them again this time about ways we can possibly partner.”

DeShambo said that the City doesn’t budget for massive debris pickups like this, and that the City “should have a better sense in a week or two” of what this storm will have cost. She added, “We learned a lot from the ice storm recovery in terms of how to quickly and efficiently remove debris. We applied those lessons to this recovery.”

I asked DeShambo if there was help for residents who may have lost trees in their parkways, the strip of land many East Lansing homes have between the sidewalk and the street. She replied that “Residents who are interested in a possible replacement tree can contact me by phone or email to be placed on our tree request list.” (Click here for contact info.) 

Officially DPW is back to normal, but the City announced today that “crews will continue to collect larger storm debris at the curb on an as-needed basis for those residents who may have been out of town or experienced delays with a tree service company. If collection of larger storm debris is still needed, residents can call DPW at (517) 337-9459 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., to make a collection request.”

In the press release issued today, City Manager George Lahanas said, “We would like to thank our residents for their responsiveness and patience in the aftermath of the storm and we would also like to thank our DPW crews for the hard work they put in over the past two weeks.” He added that “They worked extended hours, oftentimes in extreme heat, to assist residents in cleaning up their yards.”

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