Story by Nick Austin
Eyewitness News Meteorologist
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- It's autumn in the Tennessee Valley and leaves are falling off trees aplenty.
Unfortunately, they often land in our yards and residential streets. The city of Chattanooga's Public Works Department, however, offers a free service to get rid of them.
"The loose leaf collection is operated by a number of vacuum trucks and they actually go around and vacuum up the leaves from the curbside," says Justin Holland, sanitation manager and coordinator of the leaf collection service.
This not only makes our neighborhoods look better, but it makes our streets safer on rainy days because some of us just have too many leaves on our properties to handle.
"By residents raking them out in the road, raking leaves out into the roadway, sometimes it can cause hazardous driving conditions," explains Holland.
He also says that leaves often get stuck in drainage ditches and if not cleared they can cause flooding during heavy downpours.
As long the rain is not coming down in buckets, crews clear leaves Monday through Friday on routes designated by the city. Workers say wet leaves are easier to collect than dry ones, so they don't mind the rain.
"Well, really, it's not that hard at all because we have the right equipment to do the job," says crew foreman Terry Fuqua.
The leaves are then taken to a composting facility. Last year more than three thousand tons of leaves were brought to the facility. Compost piles made from leaves collected five years ago still line the landscape there. Just today more than five tons of leaves were gathered, and it's even easier than ever to find out if your neighborhood is on the day's list for pick-up.
"This year we have an interactive web map that residents can go to and they can find out if we're working in their area," says Holland.
The service also includes bagged leaves and is available from November through February. For more information, call the Chattanooga Public Works Department at 423-425-6311.