OGDEN — After two days of fierce on-and-off winds, cleanup of downed trees and limbs begins in earnest.
And it’s going to be a lot of work, all while some continue without power.
Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer for Ogden, is calling on the public to touch base with their neighbors, to join forces in gathering up limbs and disposing of them given the enormity of the task. “It’s going to take a big effort and we really need neighbors to rise up and help each other,” he said.
Similarly, South Ogden City Manager Matt Dixon said the city won’t be able to handle curbside pickup of debris given the extent of the issue. Residents will need to help one another, something he’s already seeing. “We got hit really hard,” he said, adding that seemingly every street in the city has downed trees and limbs.
Given the extent of the issue, Johnson said Ogden has opened its green waste disposal site to tree debris brought in by residents of South Ogden, Washington Terrace, Riverdale and Uintah. The main disposal site is at 1845 Monroe Blvd. and a secondary location has been opened at a vacant city lot at 720 Park Blvd. “We’re waving them through right now because there’s so much stuff,” Johnson said.
Likewise, South Ogden has opened four sites to city residents for debris. They are at Club Heights Park at 4100 Palmer Drive, Friendship Park at 5500 S. 692 East, the northeast parking lot at Burch Creek Elementary at 4300 Madison Ave. and Meadows Park at 1898 E. 5725 South. Still, the city needs wood chippers to handle all the material.
The problem is so extensive in Washington Terrace that Mayor Mark Allen put out a general call for help from those beyond the city’s borders. There’s so much tree debris, the city can’t manage the issue by itself. “We’re having a hard time getting it hauled away. ... It’s widespread throughout the city,” he said.
City crews have opened up the majority of streets impacted by downed trees and limbs, said Washington Terrace City Manager Tom Hanson. But city crews won’t be able to go house to house to collect material.
Accordingly, those with trucks who are willing and able are invited to come and help, Allen said. Just drive the streets and if there’s a pile of debris, knock on the door of a nearby home and offer to haul it away. “If people want to help, we will welcome it,” he said. The city of West Haven put out a call on its Facebook page on Washington Terrace’s behalf.
The situation was similar in Davis County. “There’s just trees down all over the place,” said Davis County Commissioner Lorene Kamalu.
Indeed, Gov. Gary Herbert traveled to Centerville, a hard-hit Davis County city, to announce a state of emergency given the extent of the damage. “I’m amazed at the efforts of Utahns working together to clean up the damage,” he said in a tweet.
Brant Hanson, the Centerville city manager, said city officials were still assessing the extent of the damage. But it was significant. “We were definitely hit pretty hard,” he said.
To aid in the cleanup in Layton, the Wasatch integrated Waste Management District started waiving fees for two weeks for Layton residents bringing in tree debris and other green waste.
Meanwhile, some still continue without electricity due to downed power lines brought on by high winds and falling branches. As of early Wednesday afternoon, the Rocky Mountain Power website reported that 23,600 customers clustered around Ogden were impacted by outages, with 96,564 customers statewide impacted by 3,579 outages.
“Restoration efforts continue around the clock,” said a message on the Rocky Mountain Power website. “Customers without service should prepare to be without power through the night and into Thursday.”
‘WE GOT HAMMERED’
No one can specifically quantify the amount of debris out there, the extent of the damage wrought by the high winds, which accompanied a cold wave that dropped the temperatures in the area on Tuesday and Wednesday. But it’s a lot, by all accounts. “We got hammered pretty hard,” said Tom Hanson.
According to a National Weather Service report on the winds released Wednesday, windspeed reached 84 mph at Hill Air Force Base, 67 mph at Riverdale Road and Interstate 84, and 64 mph at Ogden-Hinckley Airport. They reached 75 mph at Centerville and 89 mph at the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City.
On the bright side, though a few homes sustained significant damage, the bulk of the damage was limited to downed trees and tree limbs. “It’s surprising how little damage was done to buildings,” Hanson said.
Jeremiah Jones, deputy chief with the North View Fire District, said his department received about a half dozen calls about trees falling on homes. But all in all, there weren’t many reports of structural damage.
Dixon, the South Ogden city manager, said around eight homes were struck by falling trees. As of Wednesday, just one of them was deemed inhabitable.