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Cleaning up nature’s tangled mess

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By Robin Bass

For three days, Charles Walker has been reducing the wooden rubble strewn across his front yard into neat, manageable piles.

“It was a terrible mess,” said Walker of the ice storm debris from his once majestic maples. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

As the Waterford man and his nephew, Brian Walker, cut some of the larger sections into firewood for a neighbor, the elder Walker said his plan was to pile the rest of the twigs behind his home near the woods.

A mile east down Mt. Washington Road, Robert Cox had a plan, too. The Bradford Pear tree that had grown into his home’s electric service line was coming down – even if the broken limbs from the ice storm were not the result of his power loss.

“I hate to do it,” said Cox, “but this tree never should have been planted right under the power line to start with.”

Cox said he intended to plant several, strategically placed trees to take its place. He had already noticed an increase in traffic noise since shearing off most of the tree’s bottom limbs. As for the debris, Cox said any pieces not suitable for firewood would likely be burned on top of the tree’s stump.

With the recent, spring-like weather, residents across the county have started the long process of cleaning up broken branches. Some have plans for the sudden bounty of wood. Others are scratching their heads.

For those who have no idea what to do with the debris, county officials are working on their own plan to help residents deal with thousands of yards in debris.

Spencer County Judge Executive David Jenkins said the county will be collecting tree limbs damaged in the ice storm beginning today. Residents should pile sections no longer that 8-foot in length at the edge of roadways. County road crews will likely be working on gathering debris for the next several weeks.

Taylorsville Mayor Don Pay said city residents should also anticipate debris collection beginning today. Pay asked that city residents cut down limbs to 4-foot sections and pile near streets. He also asked that residents refrain from piling debris in drainage ditches as it could cause flooding.

Local officials spent Tuesday afternoon with representatives from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Early estimates are that the city and county will have over $200,000 in storm-related damages.

Looking back on the emergency response effort, Jenkins said, “I think everyone did a tremendous job. It is a testament to our community as a whole and partly a testament to our emergency plans.”

At a later date, Jenkins said he plans to recognize individuals who went “above and beyond,” but did not elaborate.

Official plan to meeting at a later date to critique their emergency response.