City begins cleanup as more branches fall
WORTHINGTON -- City crews have been working non-stop to clear tree debris and snow from streets after a storm slammed into Worthington Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
"We've been busy -- basically working overnight and all day today. We're striving diligently to get the snow removed," Worthington Director of Public Works Jim Eulberg said Thursday afternoon.
Two city employees were first sent out Tuesday night, with the rest of the employees hitting the streets in full force at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. When the snow started Wednesday, they continued working through the night "to get stuff done," Eulberg said.
City crews quickly found that the heavy, wet snow made clearing the streets more time-consuming than usual.
As the weight of the snow brought down even more branches, city crews struggled to keep up.
"They would clear a street (of branches) and then look back, and it was like they hadn't even been there," Eulberg added.
The ice laden branches continued to slow clean-up efforts, and City Forester Scott Rosenberg said this week's storm will affect trees for years to come.
"There has been lots of damage and there are not very many trees that don't have broken branches or tops broken," he said. "A lot of the trees that are bowed over -- there is going to be stress cracks that you may or may not see, that, as they grow and gain weight, will continue to fail for a number of years."
Rosenberg estimated that 95 percent of the trees in Worthington have at least broken branches and many others have suffered more severe damage.
Worthington City Hall has already received reports of solicitors going door to door, trying to take advantage of the clean-up work that needs to be done.
"There's going to be a lot of people coming into your community, wanting to assist you with tree removal. Some of these people will try to take advantage of you," Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening said in a city-county meeting Thursday afternoon.
Service providers complying with city requirements will have completed a background check and will have proof of insurance. A list of providers is being developed by City Hall and can be found on the city's website or by calling City Hall.
Worthington Director of Public Safety Mike Cumiskey recommends residents refer any solicitors to the city of Worthington.
In the same meeting, Mayor Alan Oberloh said the tree pickup date will remain fluid.
While city crews continue to clean up debris from the storm, Rosenberg asked that people be safe and smart.
"We're doing the best we can and are moving through town as fast as we can," he said. "Until the ice comes off, be smart and safe. There are branches that could continue to break, and people need to be careful if they are going under a tree."
He also asked that residents be patient as the work continues.
"There are a lot of people with a lot of the same problems with the trees. We might not get to you immediately, but we'll get there as soon as possible," he said.
To report fallen trees or branches, residents can contact the Public Works Department or City Hall.
Eulberg said the city will first focus on removing the snow, and today will remove the snow in the downtown area. Following that, trees will be cleared from boulevards; tree debris will then be removed.
"We were fortunate that it wasn't any windier than it was," Eulberg said.
In the meantime, "Our guys are working hard and doing the best we can," he added.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.