Quantcast

Volunteers move mountains of debris in wake of windstorm

Published December 6, 2011 7:35 am

Bountiful • 10,000 join the effort. "It looked like ants out there," official says.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

National guard crews Monday continued the cleanup effort that they — along with an army of citizen volunteers — began to tackle over the weekend.

Thanks to their efforts, some city officials reported the debris recovery process was nearly 90 percent complete.

In Bountiful, a steady procession of vehicles had made its way to garbage collection sites from sunrise to sundown on Sunday.

"I don't know that you call it a miracle, but we had a wonderful thing take place yesterday," said Tom Hardy, Bountiful City manager. "We had, as best we can estimate, over 10,000 people [involved in the cleanup]. It looked like ants out there."

LDS Church stakes and wards throughout the wind-torn areas held their Sunday's services, then members headed outside to devote the day to neighborhood cleanup.

Bishop Blaine Gardner from Bountiful's 2nd Ward said that between 50 to 80 people worked to clear debris before another storm forecast for Sunday night hit. Officials worried the debris would become airborne with the storm and cause more damage.

"We were all grateful that it [the anticipated storm] was milder than forecasted," Gardner said.

Cleanup costs in Bountiful had been estimated at about $2 million. But the many pick-up loads hauled by volunteers saved the city months of work.

Aside from church volunteers, Hardy said that many private contractors donated their own time and equipment to haul waste. The overall efforts resulted in 95 percent of the debris being cleared and taken to landfills.

"It's been absolutely humbling to see the response by the community," Hardy added. "It looks like we are almost back to normal — and I'll tell you, we were anything but normal Thursday night."

Members of five different Utah National Guard units were deployed to assist the cleanup Sunday and again Monday in Davis County.

Major Bruce Roberts said that about 200 soldiers showed up for the mission each of those days. Members of engineering units were called to operate dump trucks, front-end loaders and backhoes to haul large debris, mostly fallen trees and limbs, to designated areas.

The crews expect another day or two of work, depending on how long they are assigned to the area. As of noon Monday, crews had moved more than 45 dump truck loads of debris, Roberts said.

Another city giving thanks to its volunteers is Farmington, which had an estimated $6 million in damage. City Manager Dave Millheim said he met with church leaders in his city Thursday night, knowing the cleanup effort would be massive.

"We knew the city's resources would be stretched pretty thin," Millheim said, adding that the city asked church officials to pass the word to congregations to help clean up their neighborhoods. "Most of the churches canceled services in Farmington, and we had literality thousands of volunteers on the street."

Volunteers were reported to have done in about 10 hours what it would have taken city crews three months to do. Farmington is reporting that 90 percent of the cleanup is done because of its residents.

"It was remarkable to see that help and that support," Millheim said. At one point Sunday, the line of vehicles waiting to drop off debris at the dump site stretched for two miles.

Davis County Commissioner Louenda Downs said county-wide damage estimates are now between $10 million and $12 million.

Meanwhile, all schools in Davis County were expected to be open Tuesday, and all power had been restored to areas that had been without since last Thursday.

In Salt Lake City, a 13-year-old boy who was struck in the head by a tree limb during Thursday's windstorm remained hospitalized on Monday, according to Salt Lake City police Det. Mike Hamideh. The boy was taken to University Hospital, where he initially was reported to be in critical condition.

Weather-wise, while the threat of damaging winds has fizzled, freezing temperatures are now expected through Tuesday along the Wasatch Front. High pressure will be trapping cold air in the valleys along the Wasatch Front, which will keep daytime temperatures in the 30s through the remainder of the week, said Mike Seaman, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

rorellana@sltrib.com