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Storm debris obstructing traffic views accounts for some Cedar Rapids crashes

A car travels down a Cedar Rapids road on Monday, September 29th, 2020, near an intersection...
A car travels down a Cedar Rapids road on Monday, September 29th, 2020, near an intersection with a pile of storm debris left over from the August 10th derecho.(Rebecca Varilek)
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 5:12 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - As of September 29, the city of Cedar Rapids has removed over 230,000 tons of tree debris from along city streets. Some of the remaining piles are so high, though, that they’re hard to see around and that’s troubling enough for the average commuter, but also delivery drivers.

Pierson’s Flower Shop and Garden Center is a Cedar Rapids staple, delivering bouquets around town for decades.

“It started by my grandparents in 1928, it’s gone through several iterations,” Allan Pierson, owner of the shop, said.

Through those years, Pierson said his delivery drivers have had to navigate through the aftermath of plenty of weather hazards.

“Delivering in a snowstorm can be a challenge. I’ve had vehicles get stuck, I’ve had them in the ditch, and I’ve had them roll over,” Pierson said. “Getting around Cedar Rapids after the flood was really hard, but this presents a whole other challenge.”

Pierson said right after the August 10 derecho, deliveries were difficult. Even though road conditions have since improved, drivers are still on alert.

“And then trying to turn the corner where the branches are piled high, you’ve got to kind of inch your way out and peek around the branches to make sure you aren’t going to hit something,” Pierson said.

The city of Cedar Rapids said a cleanup crew is dedicated to clearing intersections and is working as quickly as possible. According to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, since the storm, officers have logged 10 crashes with a contributing factor of “obstructed views.” A majority of them noted tree debris in the way.

“You’ve just got to be really careful and try and look around it and really pay attention. Otherwise you are going to run into somebody or one of the branches,” Pierson said.

Pierson said his company averages around 40 daily deliveries, but during the holidays, that number can jump up to nearly 400. He contributes his experienced drivers for going crash free since the storm.

“My drivers that I have now delivering with me have been here a long, long time. Cathy has been with us for about ten years I think and she is a very good driver. There is always challenges though.” Pierson said.

If you’d like to report a concerning intersection, you can email the location to: engineering@cedar-rapids.org

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