City Piles Storm Debris on Front Lawn, Angers Resident

DES MOINES, Iowa – Residents across the metro are still cleaning up from last week’s violent windstorm and most are doing it with little or no help from city services.

That has some people scratching their heads.

Unless these Urbandale neighbors buck up, their storm debris is going nowhere.

Same with West Des Moines, Johnston and Altoona, where city officials said last Tuesday’s windstorm wasn’t severe enough to merit a free pickup.

In Ankeny: “We saw record numbers on Saturday and Sunday,” says Tina Potthoff, communications director for the City of Ankeny.

The city chipped trees and branches for free, but residents had to haul it in themselves.

“On a typical tree and branch recycling day, we see about 150 total, but this time we saw about 800 cars come through on that weekend.”

The demand was so great, Ankeny will continue to accept debris until Friday.

You can’t help but wonder if the record turnout made them wonder if the storm was severe enough to warrant free pickup after all.

Meanwhile, at Carol Lewis’s house in Des Moines, things got really messy.

“I’m not happy at all,” she said, staring at the towering, stacked mess in her front yard.

The storm dropped her giant sycamore branch across Center Street.  MidAmerican Energy cut it up and cleared it Tuesday morning, but on Friday, a city crew showed up to finish the job—kind of.

“Because it came from private property, they were putting it back on private property,” she explained. “I told them ‘No, (you’re) not.’”

Lewis’s neighbor, Dan Robbins, says she never lost control, but the police were called anyway.  Robbins shot video of the scene.

“She has great restraint,” Robbins said, “and she was very reasonable I think, but angry at the same time.”

“They called the police because they were afraid that I was going to make a nuisance of myself,” Lewis said.

Lewis says she offered to pay the six-man crew to haul it all away.

“The only answer I get is they are not in the business of hauling debris away and they just don’t have the resources.”

Which seems like a strange answer to give when there are two dump trucks on the scene.

What were the dump trucks doing? “Sitting. Literally sitting idle. Nothing,” Robbins laughed. “They had the resources, they had everything together, they did most of the work and then just created a new problem.”

“It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of,” Lewis said. A costly storm alright–for pocketbooks and public relations.

Our calls to public works departments in Des Moines and Urbandale went unreturned Monday. Wind gusts hit 54 miles per hour in last Tuesday’s storm.

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