Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly: Storm cleanup could take another two to three weeks

Todd Ponath
A tree at a home on the corner of Saratoga Road and Lexington had multiple trees blown over with many of the branches landing on the house. Powerful storms with strong winds knocked trees and power lines down throughout the area.
Published on: 7/3/2014

The cleanup in the aftermath of the damaging storms earlier this week continues. 

Power took more than 48 hours in some cases to be restored across the city as traffic signals at major intersections remained out as well as shopping centers.

Besides the lost power, many trees were lost due to the storm.

Department of Public Works Director Fred Abadi said his department is helping the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department in cleaning up Districts 1 and 3 on the northeast side of the city as those areas were hit the hardest.

"We're just working on getting the city property cleaned and sidewalks open as there are still trees hanging in streets," Steve Dziekan, city garage street supervisor, said on Thursday.

But Abadi said there is not a plan for a city-wide brush pick up for trees on people's property.

Abadi said residents can bring their tree debris to the city's Drop-Off Center, 750 Sentry Drive, on Thursday and Saturday free of charge. The center is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. 

This option was also available on Wednesday. 

Dziekan said there are crews to assist at the Drop-Off Center.

"It's been pretty busy," Dziekan said. "I was down there on Wednesday and again on Thursday morning and it was hectic."

Dziekan said the DPW Department will reassess whether to have extended hours at the Drop-Off Center next week. 

In an email to members of the Common Council on Thursday afternoon, Mayor Shawn Reilly said the cleanup in Districts 1 and 3 will continue into most of next week.

"Many of the downed trees that were impeding traffic have now been removed," Reilly said. "There is still significant work that needs to be done, however." 

Once the cleanup is finished in this area, Reilly said the other areas of the city will be tended to. Reilly said it is expected to take an additional week to two weeks to clean up the rest of the city.

Abadi encourages residents to call the city if there is a fallen city-owned tree, but if it is a private tree on a resident's own property than he said they have to find someone, other than the city, to pick it up or bring it to the Drop-Off Center.

"Our resources are limited," Dziekan said when asked about doing a city-wide cleanup for trees on people's property. "It’s a challenge no doubt. It was not a planned event and everything was twisted and uprooted. It's a real challenge working around utilities (as crews) were trying to get power restored."

Reilly said at Tuesday's Common Council meeting that the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department "is a little overwhelmed trying to clean up fallen trees on roadways and city property" and expected them to be working overtime as they cleaned up the roadways the rest of this week. 

"Since the city’s responsibility of taking care of street trees and clearing the sidewalks and streets is unlikely to be completed for another two or three weeks, no brush pick up is presently being scheduled," Reilly said.