- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) - The cleanup of wood debris from this year’s storms has proved to be costly and time-consuming for the city of Hastings.

City administrator Joe Patterson told the Hastings Tribune (https://bit.ly/11KCE3E ) that the pickup from the most recent storm last month cost the city an estimated $180,000 in manpower, equipment and landfill expenses.

The National Weather Service said a storm packing damaging winds of more than 80 mph struck Hastings on Aug. 17. It was the fifth time since June 3 that the wind gusted more than 70 mph in Hastings.

The city has responded several times this year to collect fallen tree debris from residences, Patterson said. Such service required diverting parks and recreation staffers and street workers from their normal duties, such as pavement repairs and grass mowing. But Jack Newlun, solid waste superintendent, said the city storm cleanup didn’t require any extra duty hours for city workers.

The storm workload was increased by residents who tossed shrubs and other yard debris onto piles with storm debris and by those who tossed their downed tree limbs onto city property, Patterson said.

“It’s frustrating when people drag their brush over and throw it onto one of our public parks, out in the street, or onto public property somewhere,” Patterson said. “That’s littering, and it is against the law.”

He also worries about residents’ expectations after future storms.

“Having had so many storm cleanups this year, my fear is that people will expect that anytime a limb falls we’ll come over and pick it up. It has to be something pretty significant and widespread to pull our resources off what we would normally be doing,” Patterson said.

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Information from: Hastings Tribune, https://www.hastingstribune.com

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