Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hailey will seek federal disaster relief

Damages from storm could take a year to measure


Ten days after an early snowstorm walloped the south valley, work crews are still cleaning up fallen limbs and tree trunks from public and private property. Hailey officials say they will seek federal disaster funds to cover the cost of the cleanup.

"This was an extraordinary weather event," said Councilwoman Carol Brown at a City Council meeting on Monday.

The storm peaked during the wee hours of Monday morning, Oct. 5, surprising the city with 8 inches of wet and heavy snow. Hundreds of trees from Hailey to Bellevue, still in full leaf from summer, were felled or damaged by the weight of the snow.

"It's enough to make you want to cry to see that much damage," said Shaun Speer, owner of C-U Next Storm landscaping and snow removal company. "In 30 years, I have not seen this early a snow storm this far south."

Speer had three men working for four days in Hailey and Bellevue, cutting and removing maple, ash, cottonwood and aspen tree branches and trunks from 35 properties he maintains. He said all of the properties he maintains sustained damage, losing from one to seven trees each.

Though no accidents or injuries were reported, numerous vehicles and homes were damaged by falling limbs. The storm knocked out power to homes, schools and businesses in both Hailey and Bellevue.

But the long-term damage may take a long while to assess because no one knows how many trees, weakened by the storm, will survive the winter.

"It could take until this time next year to know the full extent of the damage," said Hailey Public Works Director Tom Hellen, who had six men working full time last week to clean up the fallen debris.

City Administrator Heather Dawson told the City Council on Monday that she plans to seek federal disaster relief funds to cover the cost of the cleanup.

"Arborists are at work assessing the damage now. It could take some time to find out if we qualify for disaster relief," she said.

Bellevue City Administrator Tom Blanchard said his city hired three work crews for three full days to provide initial cleanup from the storm.

"There is still a lot of damage way up high in the trees that we couldn't reach without a boom truck," he said.

Blanchard estimates that the first phase of cleanup will cost the city $10,000.

"It is part of the city landscape and the community value. We have to take care of it," he said.

Free cleanup:

Clear Creek Disposal will provide free pickup of organic yard waste on Nov. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hailey Park and Ride, corner of River and Bullion Streets:

· Any organic material is accepted.

· No lengths over 3 feet.

· No more than 12-inch diameter limbs.

· No bags accepted.




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