Storm toppled 1,000 trees on public property in Salt Lake City alone – Deseret News

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CENTERVILLE — Self-appointed cleanup crews hauled aspen branches from neighbors’ yards in Centerville.

School bus drivers in Salt Lake City adapted to yet another change in their job description: clearing debris from a schoolyard.

And volunteers ran a network of temporary landfills as churches and parks accepted remnants of giant Sycamores toppled in the storm.

A day after hurricane-level winds swept across the Wasatch Front, yanking 100-year-old trees from the ground and knocking out power for thousands, many jumped into unusual roles Wednesday to lend a hand in storm recovery efforts.

The overnight windstorm had reached over 100 mph in certain areas, resulting in one weather-related death, according to Intermountain Healthcare. Donald Hardy, 61, who is not from Utah, died after sustaining head injuries while delivering motor oil in South Salt Lake when a gust of wind either caught him or the door he was holding and knocked him to the ground, resulting in a significant traumatic brain injury, police confirmed.

Just before declaring a state of emergency for Utah Wednesday, Gov. Gary Herbert surveyed wind-battered Centerville, saying he was “amazed” by the cleanup endeavors.

Gov. Gary Herbert, center, and other officials survey the damage caused by hurricane-force winds in Centerville on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. The massive windstorm that took out thousands of trees from Cache County to Utah County on Tuesday left nearly 200,000 customers without power.
Gov. Gary Herbert, center, and other officials survey the damage caused by hurricane-force winds in Centerville on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. The massive windstorm that took out thousands of trees from Cache County to Utah County on Tuesday left nearly 200,000 customers without power.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Jan Bodily, who was working with several teenagers to move debris from their neighbors’ yards in Bountiful Wednesday morning. “We want to be of service to our friends and neighbors, and we know that they would do for us what we’re doing for them were it necessary.”

Centerville Mayor Clark Wilkinson echoed the governor’s sentiment in an interview Wednesday, saying how moved he was by the way residents in his city have responded.

“I’m really proud of our community,” Wilkinson said. “I did an interview yesterday, and I teared up when I went to say, ‘You’re going to be amazed if you come here tomorrow and you see how people pitch in and help.’ And it was hard to get the words out, because that’s just what they do.”

The storm also took a toll across Salt Lake City.

Linda Krogh and Mohammed Giravi planned to start the school year transporting children with special needs for in-person classes at the city’s public schools.

Giravi, a bus driver, and Krogh, a bus attendant responsible for taking the young passengers’ temperatures and keeping an eye on them, took on a much different role Wednesday. Rather than boarding their bus, they spent the morning dragging fallen tree branches uphill from the lawn of East High School to a parking lot where they could be hauled away.

Neither had power at their own homes, but both answered a Wednesday morning call for help from the school district.

“I said, it’ll take me a half-hour to get dressed and get there,” Krogh said.

Giravi and Krogh, both 56, were among six employees who donned warm clothes and face masks for their new assignment.

“We have to help. Who else is going to do it for us?” Giravi said. “We’re doing it for our kids, for our community, so we’re happy to do that.”

Back in Centerville, Beverly Carroll, 33, was on the receiving end of community help after getting quite a shock upon waking after the storm.

“We went to bed,” she said. “Had no power, went to bed, and my husband woke me up in the morning and said, ‘We have a problem.’”

The problem was a once-towering aspen tree, directly in front of their home, that had fallen over in the storm — luckily tipping away from their house. Even without damaging their home, cleaning up a giant, toppled tree is quite the task for just a couple of people.

“Our bishop came by and said that we wouldn’t be doing it alone, taking care of it alone,” Carroll said, praising her neighbors and members of the congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We have a great neighborhood, a great ward; people are so helpful.”

On Wednesday morning, numerous people got to work at her home. And while Carroll said she was sad to lose the tree, she — like many others in the community — was just happy there wasn’t further damage.

“I don’t feel terrible about it because everybody has had something go wrong, and it doesn’t matter, we’ll get through this,” she said. “And I just wish we could help others.”

Elisha Braithwaite also didn’t hesitate to accept Bodily’s help after debris fell in her yard. She noted another group nearby was offering the same help.

“The neighborhood has been great,” Braithwaite said. “People have been coming around with their trucks and picking everything up.”

Much of the debris was transported to city-designated areas at parks and churches, which saved people the trouble of going to the dump and waiting in long lines.

“Partnerships like this, we do enough that we’ve got the infrastructure in place (so when) the city calls or somebody from the state calls and says, ‘Hey, can we do this?’ We just get volunteers together to make it work,” said Scott Barnes, a volunteer working at the Bountiful stake center at 270 N. 400 East.

Salt Lake City and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were coordinating volunteer work crews Wednesday, encouraging Utahns to join the effort once a hotline is up and running later on.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said it’s too early to pinpoint the cost of damage from the storm that felled more than an estimated 1,000 trees, “but we know that this is a generational storm, and the impacts and the face of Salt Lake City is going to be different for the rest of our lifetimes.”

Mendenhall urged those who live in the city to be patient as crews prioritize clearing trees that have toppled on streets, homes and cars. She urged people not to drag debris to the street just yet, saying a timeline for curbside pickup of yard debris will be announced later on.

A landfill in the city was at capacity, Mendenhall told reporters in Liberty Park Wednesday, near a fallen tree with dislodged roots jutting two stories tall.

Mendenhall said the city’s Rose Park neighborhood, lined with old trees, was hit especially hard by the storm. Her employees have not yet identified any significant damage to public buildings.

Julie Shaddy, of Draper, had taken a break from the news on Tuesday and was shocked to see footage of the wreckage Wednesday morning. She rushed to telephone her father, who lives in Salt Lake City near the University of Utah.

“I was afraid,” she recalled Wednesday as she piled small branches from his yard into a small trash can. Shaddy said she was relieved to hear her dad hadn’t so much as lost power, although tree limbs littered the yard in front of his brick home. So she joined her brother and a cousin Wednesday morning in a family effort to put the lawn back in order.

Julie Shaddy, of Draper, cleans up debris from trees at her father’s home near 900 South and 1900 East in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. A windstorm that ripped through the Wasatch Front on Tuesday toppled trees and damaged homes.
Julie Shaddy, of Draper, cleans up debris from trees at her father’s home near 900 South and 1900 East in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. A windstorm that ripped through the Wasatch Front on Tuesday toppled trees and damaged homes.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Salt Lake City Forester Tony Gliot estimates at least 1,000 trees — many 60 to 100 years old — have tumbled on public property alone, and clearing each could take up to a week and a half. Others that were damaged but still standing need to be removed, a process that will span months.

He cautioned people to stay away from parks or other public areas that have sustained damage.

“It’s not safe to be climbing on trees that have fallen, and there are still trees that are unstable and may fall,” Gliot said.

Some have compared Tuesday’s gusts to a 2011 windstorm and others that happened in the 1980s, Gliot said, “but it seems as though just about everybody feels this is the most widespread destruction of full tree failures in recent memory.”

A tree that as toppled by high winds at Sunnyside Park in Salt Lake City is pictured on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Several trees in the park were felled during a windstorm on Tuesday.
A tree that as toppled by high winds at Sunnyside Park in Salt Lake City is pictured on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. Several trees in the park were felled during a windstorm on Tuesday.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

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