OGDEN — A month after the windstorms that blew through Weber County, downing trees and littering yards with tree limbs, officials are still grinding up the material.
“It’s just taken a while,” said Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer for the City of Ogden. “It’s a long process to get through all that.”
But as the work winds down, details about the scope, while still potentially subject to change, are emerging. The fierce winds last month left some 53,000 cubic yards of material to be disposed of in Weber County, enough to fill perhaps 4,000 dump trucks. What’s more, the resulting response across the county cost more than $1 million.
“They’re very preliminary,” said Weber County Emergency Management Director Lance Peterson, who provided the figures. But the estimates have been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Peterson said officials await word to see if they get any federal help to offset the costs, spread across the impacted cities. Officials in Davis County, also hit hard by the windstorm, didn’t have any damage estimates to provide as of Tuesday.
Fierce winds approaching 100 mph whipped through Weber and Davis counties and several other Utah counties on Sept. 8 and 9, knocking trees over, scattering limbs in yards and streets, and downing power lines. Many were left without electricity for several days and some schools shut their doors to keep kids off the streets and because of loss of power.
It prompted a huge cleanup effort to collect all the downed debris, and Mark Allen, the mayor of Washington Terrace, said that city has largely returned to normal.
“It’s looking so, so good,” he said. “Kind of moved on.”
Still, some reminders remain, including some of the limbs and tree debris brought to a lot at 720 Park Blvd. in Ogden. Crews on Tuesday continued to grind the collected debris, though it covered a much smaller footprint than in the aftermath of the storms. Peterson said another site in Pleasant View still contained debris as well. Some of the wood chips will likely be sold, Johnson said, and some will probably be brought to a landfill.
Washington Terrace, Riverdale, South Ogden and Ogden were particularly hard hit by the winds. Peterson said the estimated $1 million in costs that resulted includes pay for the workers who helped in cleanup efforts and the costs of fixing damaged sidewalks and signage, among other things.
One of the brights spots of it all was the solidarity shown by neighbors, public officials and others who banded together to help in the cleanup initiative.
“The trees came down and neighbors did just a wonderful job of neighbor helping neighbor,” said Weber County Commissioner Jim Harvey. “Cities and the county certainly got involved. And there were landowners that allowed dumping (of debris) on their sites. It was a huge, mammoth, countywide project.”
Stauffers Towing, a West Haven-based towing firm, helped remove tree stumps in Washington Terrace, free of charge, and city leaders passed a proclamation earlier this month declaring Tuesday “Stauffers Towing Day” as a show of thanks. The firm helped remove 166 stumps left behind after trees were knocked over, according to the proclamation.
Weber County officials were planning to issue a similar proclamation to thank the company. “Just wanted to recognize them and tell them thanks,” Harvey said.