Smaller Towns Still Dealing With Debris

Wednesday, March 26th 2008, 7:09 pm
By: News On 6

Spring is here and there is still plenty of work to be done to clean-up after the big December ice storm. Load after load of downed limbs are still being dropped off at locations around the Tulsa area.  News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports many smaller communities like Vera in Washington County, with limited resources, continue to lean on volunteers to get all of the work done.

Jim Owens says there's no telling how many times he's gone back-and-forth from his Vera home to the town's debris pile.

"I couldn't count them, several," said Jim Owens with a laugh.

Three-and-a-half months since the ice storm and many of the town's 200 residents are still picking up.

"Man, we've cleared this whole lot over here.  It was just devastation.  It was just bad," said Owens.

The town has about $30,000 in ice storm expenses.  It may not sound like much if you're from a larger town, but it's a lot considering Vera's annual city budget is just $10,000.

"It just seems like you never see the end.  We make a pass with the tractor and equipment, and clean it up and we come back two days later and it's all there again.  You wonder if you're making any headway, but you are," said Vera Fire Chief Todd Owens.

That headway has come thanks to neighbors helping neighbors.  Volunteer firefighters cleared debris and others have volunteered time and labor.

To get the tough stuff, Vera also hired a contractor who gave the town a generous price break and is allowing the town to pay the bill over time.

The debris pile in Vera is about 10 feet tall in some places.

"It's good for your health, you get plenty of exercise," said Jim Owens.

It's a lot of work, but while the ice storm ripped down limbs all over town, it also brought the community even closer together.

"In small communities, when something happens, you can rely on your people.  They pull together, they struggle through the disaster, then they pick up and carry on," said Todd Owens.

Town leaders are waiting on a $5,000 grant that would cover some of the costs.  Vera Residents have until the end of the month to drop off storm debris.  Then it will be burned the first week of April.

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