After the storm: cleanup of yards is all about inches - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

After the storm: cleanup of yards is all about inches

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Most every tree is down or broken on the 6-acre spread off Ely Road.

Jenny Shaw's family's called it home for three generations.

"I have a trailer here by the side of the house," says Shaw. "It was my daughter's home-away-from-home for college. It's smashed."

But her first tornado is hardly her first disaster.

"I've been in a hurricane (Hugo) an earthquake, (San Francisco) and a blizzard," says Shaw.

The cleanup drill is second nature.

"I hope they'll take the whole tree," says Shaw, referring to a 30-foot oak dropped in the side yard. "But I haven't had any help to get my stuff to the road. I've been burning it."

As she's speaking to Eyewitness News, the crew from Chattanooga Public Works, is only a few yards away.

"They've been working 12-hour days 4 days a week, 10 hour days 2 days a week," Assistant Director Lee Norris says.

Cleanup comes by inches.

"We went out Monday morning, guess what? it's all back out there on the road," says Norris. "Cause people used the weekend to get out and do work in the yard and get it out."

Crews will haul larger logs.

"The limit had been three or four feet, now it's eight," says Shaw. "Guess they've had no choice. but they've really done a great job."

Norris guesstimates the bill for overtime and equipment at $300,000. And climbing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could shoulder three-quarters of that cost, but there are catches.

"It's okay if (the debris) sits on the road a little longer," says Norris. "Because under FEMA contracting, we're limited to how many times we can visit an area."

Three regional recycling centers will process the wood and brush. Once your fallen oaks or pines have been clipped and chipped, the mulch is free.

Shaw's free labor ends Friday, when her brother heads home to Austin.

"I've thought about where I'll go next," says Shaw. "Texas? Well, there's wildfires. What can you do?"

Norris' worries go to the trees that haven't fallen. Yet.

"We didn't finish cleaning up from the windstorms before the tornadoes hit," says Norris. "The roots are weak. We get some more wind, there may be some more damage yet."


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