FORT WAYNE – Hurricane-force winds toppled at least 500 trees last week, leaving a glut of dead wood throughout Fort Wayne.
The city has committed to removing all limbs and branches placed curbside by residents, even those from private trees. People who take limbs and branches to the curb are asked not to put them in the street to avoid safety hazards for drivers and reduce work for crews who would later have to clean the streets.
Al Moll, city parks director, said numerous crews have been hired to help collect debris from neighborhoods, along with city crews, but he noted the process likely will take three months to complete.
The city’s website, www.cityoffortwayne.org, is expected to have a listing of sections of the city being cleaned by crews by today.
Bob Kennedy, city director of public works, said residents should get their debris to the curb as quickly as possible so crews won’t be forced to go back into neighborhoods more than once.
We do hope to complete this in one pass, he said.
Residents who want their limbs gone immediately were encouraged to take the debris to one of four drop-off locations in the city.
What will happen to all those branches, limbs and trunks is still being determined as the city gets a handle on how much debris needs to removed.
The private contractors will keep the limbs to sell to companies to create mulch or use them for other purposes. That will still leave likely tons of tree waste for city crews to handle.
The branches taken to the city’s Lake Avenue biosolids facility will be converted to mulch that is made available to the public. Residents will not be charged for bringing limbs to the Lake Avenue facility this week.
Moll said the city will determine what to do with debris taken to the other drop-off sites depending on the volume.
He said the city might have contractors take the trees away, which they have historically done for free if they can keep the wood. There isn’t a point in keeping it all for the city, Moll said.
We only need so much mulch, he said.
City and county officials pleaded with residents not to use the wood themselves in backyard campfires. Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters said the county’s burn ban remains in effect for fireworks and recreational campfires.
He said it was critical for people to follow the burn ban because the recent storm has stretched emergency response resources as well as provided ample temptation to start fires.
Instinctively you want to burn the stuff, he said.
The burn ban has been in place for weeks because of the area’s drought and was not affected by the rain that accompanied last week’s storm.