RIVERDALE — Surveying the limbs and other debris in her Riverdale yard earlier this week after the spate of fierce winds that swept through Weber County, Jayne Carlson could only shake her head.
“There was such a mess that we couldn’t walk outside,” she said. “The whole place was filled with leaves. You couldn’t walk through it.”
Then the contingent of high schoolers arrived, giving her and her husband — getting on in years and unable to handle the cleanup themselves — a big boost and much-needed relief. The students, eight from Bonnevile High School and one from Fremont High School, gathered up the debris and cut the downed limbs, helping get the yard back to normal — closer to normal, anyway. “It was such a blessing for us because we didn’t know where to start,” Carlson said.
Leaders around Weber County are reporting such neighborly efforts in the wake of the strong winds that buffeted the area earlier this week, knocking trees and limbs down and causing other damage. And with officials from the impacted cities reporting they’ll be facing an uptick in expenses to deal with the situation, such efforts are welcome.
“There’s definitely going to be a financial impact,” said Mark Allen, mayor of Washington Terrace, one of the harder-hit cities. Indeed, he has invited those from around the county with trailers who are willing and able to aid in cleanup efforts. Just pick a neighborhood, knock on a door, offer to take away any debris and haul it off after getting the green light.
Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer in Ogden, said city employees — administrators, firefighters, policemen and others — plan to fan out across the city on Monday to help impacted neighborhoods. “We’re all going to be out there,” he said.
Likewise, just as neighbors are helping neighbors, the city of Ogden is trying to be a good neighbor of sorts to other nearby Weber County communities, opening up its green waste site to debris brought in from other locales. “We’re all in the county together. We figure this is the right way to go,” Johnson said.
Weber County officials reduced the cost of dropping off debris at the county transfer station, at least for now, according to Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins.
Whatever the case, there will still be a cost to locales to contend with the aftermath of the wind. Though officials don’t yet have a solid handle on what the exact price tag will be, they say they’ll have overtime costs to pay city workers helping with the storm aftermath. They’ll also have costs related to the processing of all the debris, among other things.
The cost of grinding up all the trees and limbs and getting rid of the wood waste will be “substantial,” Johnson said.
Allen said Washington Terrace’s financial director hasn’t yet been able pinpoint the likely cost to the city. But in an emergency situation like this, city leaders do what’s necessary. “We’re just going to get things done and we’ll pay the bill when we get there,” he said.
Russell Porter, the mayor of South Ogden, another hard-hit city, said the city may have to tap into rainy day funds. Seemingly every street in the city suffered downed limbs and/or trees, he said.
Gov. Gary Herbert on Wednesday announced a state of emergency in Utah in response to the windstorm, which, he said, “expedites the use of state resources and federal resources” in dealing with the situation. Davis and Salt Lake counties were similarly impacted with downed trees and tree limbs. But state officials on Thursday didn’t immediately respond to a Standard-Examiner query seeking comment on how, more specifically, the declaration will help.
At any rate, Allen is skeptical. “Usually, small cities like ours, we don’t get to cash in on those emergency declarations,” he said.
Meantime, many are still contending with lack of power. The strong winds, gusts of 70 mph and more, brought down power lines or downed limbs that downed power lines, causing widespread outages. As of Thursday afternoon, Rocky Mountain Power reported that 54,153 customers were sill impacted by outages, down from 96,564 on Wednesday. Gauging by an online map on the power company’s website, outages within Weber County were particularly pronounced in Ogden, South Ogden and Washington Terrace.
“The power guys are here all day long and probably all night long,” Allen said. It’s just that there are so many downed lines that it takes time to deal with them all.
Ogden is accepting green waste at two locations, the main disposal site at 1845 Monroe Blvd. and at a secondary site at 720 Park Blvd. The Monroe Boulevard location is accessible via Monroe Boulevard from the north. Johnson asks Ogden residents to refrain from putting limbs in their green garbage bins, instead hauling the material to a green waste site. The city has also placed dumpsters at scattered locations in Ogden where green waste can be left.
As of Thursday, South Ogden was accepting waste at three locations: the Burch Creek Elementary parking lot at 4300 Madison Ave., Friendship Park at 5500 S. 692 East and Club Heights Park at 4100 Palmer Drive.