GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than a month after severe storms moved through Grand Rapids, the city continues to clean up debris.
A pile of trees in Riverside Park is just a fraction of debris crews have removed after high winds pushed through the area.
Joe Sulak, the parks superintendent for the city of Grand Rapids, said the sheer amount of tree trunks and limbs has made for a real challenge.
“That was on Aug. 24 and the cleanup effort started immediately after that. I mean I was on the street, our crews were on the street starting about 10 that evening,” Sulak said. “A lot of overtime by our public works department, forestry department, other individuals within the city, a couple different contractors that we had out here picking up large scale debris.”
The amount of power outages made for an even bigger challenge when cleanup began.
“There were a lot of trees that were wrapped in wires to start so things are a little bit slower,” Sulak said.
The crews had to prioritize the trees that were causing the most impact first and then focus on other cleanup.
“Make sure that right-aways are clear and then the debris is picked up where we can make sure that the parks are functional, the cemeteries are functional and then we go ahead and consolidate all the debris … and then we’ll ultimately be picking this debris up and taking it to the green waste facility,” Sulak said.
The trunks and branches will be repurposed when it is possible.
“We talk to contractors about is there a way we can use that for lumber? … Can we grind it down and use it as mulch? Can it be used as filler for our compost operations down at the green waste facility? So we try and find the best end use for it,” Sulak explained.
The park superintendent hopes to have the pile cleared from Riverside Park by the end of next week but there will still be more work to finish.
“There’s a lot of trees that were broken and that and our forestry department is looking at those getting hangars where we need to. Follow up tree care, sometimes trees need to be removed after all of this so that’s going to take some time, of course,” Sulak said.