Richmond storm cleanup to continue through weekend

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a working weekend for Richmond Urban Forestry crews as they finish clearing away downed trees from the severe storm.

The strong winds toppled some 90 trees Thursday night. City officials say crews plan to get an early start on the remainder of the storm debris cleanup. The focus over the last 24 hours was fallen trees that created hazardous conditions.

On Montrose Avenue in Ginter Park, a crane dropped a good portion of an old maple tree into the back of a Richmond Urban Forestry truck. Hours before, part of it rested on Joseph Sams' roof.

"This tree actually split in half. It was leaning toward falling in the street. The other half was laying on the house," said Sams.

Sams' wife, son, and nephew were home when it blew over.

"In fact I was looking at other trees whistling and dancing in the wind, and I said, 'oh boy this wind is blowing hard enough to knock down a tree.' And it did! Two minutes maybe at the most, I got a phone call from my wife," said Sams.

It took hours to cleanup some of what Mother Nature took down in just a matter of minutes Thursday. 90 trees in the city alone. Nearly two dozen city workers tackled the mess Friday. Their work is far from over.

Since this split tree threatened to fall into the street, it was considered a hazard and top priority for city crews.

"We want to make sure we get any hazards out of the roads, off people's houses," said Sharon North with Richmond Public Works.

Next on the chopping block, a downed tree on Lancaster Road in Battery Park. It's one of many on the city's priority list to be cleared out of the way this weekend. City officials urge patience.

"We've been cutting the trees up and people may see them laying along side of road or a tree on private property. We may stack it up in the yard before we get back out to remove them all together," said North.

Sams is just happy to see the front of his house again.

"Now we're just looking forward to getting some repairs and some time to spend alone to think of this as a dream," said Sams.

About 15 city workers will continue the job Saturday morning. If you're wondering, the downed trees will be turned into mulch and given away to city residents.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.