GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids is getting extra help to clean up following last week’s back-to-back ice storms after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the area.
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said as the weather calmed down and power was restored, it became clear how much help was needed.
“Our calls for services skyrocketed,” Bliss said Sunday. “We have over 350 priority calls that we need to respond to largely for storm clean up.”
Bliss explained that’s why she requested that the governor to declare a state of emergency.
City officials told 24 Hour News 8 that they are focusing on recovery efforts and state funding and resources will help speed up the process.
“Today, we’ve tripled the size of our debris removal team,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “Hopefully, within the next week, we will do in seven days what would’ve taken us weeks to do to get our city back to normal.”
About a dozen crews spent Sunday dragging and shredding downed branches around the city. The Michigan Department of Transportation and Wyoming Department of Public Works also sent teams to help. The city’s forester, Dan Coy, said that it was much-appreciated assistance.
“The hardest part for us right now is really the cold and snow conditions,” Coy said. “We’re sliding around out here and a lot of times for our storm event we lean on our folks in the street department. They’re a big help for us, but right now those guys are out in the salt trucks and they’re plowing and getting the snow off the streets.”
Coy told 24 Hour News 8 that forestry crews have been working 12-hour shifts, but there were still hundreds of service requests they needed to get to.
“Most of the city has been restored with power, thankfully, but we have a ton of debris on the ground everywhere,” Coy said.
Under the state of emergency, Grand Rapids is also eligible for reimbursement for the costs incurred during the next week of cleanup.
If Grand Rapids residents have branches or debris in the yard, Coy said they should pull what they can to the curb and crews will pick it up. You don’t need to put the debris in trash bags or tag it, but you should call 311 during regular business hours to report debris piles.