City officials say storm cleanup priority remains “clearing impassable roads” in coming days

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 8:06 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Clean up continues throughout much of the area following Monday’s storms and many residents say they are hoping to get more guidance from the city on what the response plan is.

City officials said safety is the top priority in their response, and they continue to work with multiple agencies in the cleanup effort. They say their biggest priority is to get all streets passable so people can get around and say they are making progress on that. Jen Winter, public works director for Cedar Rapids, said if the city’s crews haven’t been down a street yet, it’s likely because there are power lines obstructing them from getting there.

Council Street near Golf view Drive was one of those streets where trees are completely blocking people from coming through. A group of neighbors there say they have collectively been banding together to try and help clear some of this debris safely. April Rottinghaus said her husband helped in the effort. She says the impassable roads has made it a hassle and danger for many, but says the community response has been great.

“When the storm was first dying down people immediately before they were checking their homes, they were checking on each other, so we made sure everybody that was home was safe and was able to get out there front door at least. Some places had trees and branches blocking their doors,” Rottinghaus said. “I was telling my friends, I don’t feel like the city or Alliant is doing anything yet but they are in different parts of the city, and I know it’s widespread and they can’t be everywhere at the same time.”

City officials said that when people have internet they can go to the city’s website and find all the information they need on what they should be doing. Winter says one of the biggest things they are dealing with is the extensive tree damage and debris.

“Right now, if you can get that debris to the back of the curb we will pick up what’s there. We are making those sweeps to the neighborhood and picking up any debris that is behind the curb,” Winter said. “We can not come onto private property so even contractors and the IDOT will not be coming onto private property.”

Mayor Brad Hart also addressed if they will be using National Guard resources for help, but said it may not be needed.

“We have to make that decision. It wouldn’t be the National Guard coming in, it would be the resources they provide, but I think now with all the grappling trucks we have and the contractors we have lined up and other vehicles and equipment from the IDOT we may not need that help,” Hart said.

An Iowa National Guard spokesperson said they have not been requested by Gov. Kim Reynolds to come as of Wednesday, but did say one of their captains was touring storm damage with the Governor around the state Wednesday.

The City says they are hoping to have streets cleared that are impassable right now in the next day or so, and they expect to have contractors and other trucks helping them haul the material out.

Hart said they are also looking at the possibility of beginning holding daily news conferences to continue to update the community on response plans, possibly starting Thursday.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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