Weeks after big storm clean up and repair well underway

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Four weeks after the devastating windstorm toppled hundreds of trees, damaging homes and cutting off power for thousands of Claremont residents, the physical reminders of that night are beginning to fade.

In the three days following the windstorm, police dispatch received 546 calls for service, and community services another 500 or more. The city received 168 damage reports including trees falling onto homes and other buildings. In the days just after the storm, it seemed that every neighborhood had blocked streets and torn up sidewalks. Now, much of the initial work to clear roadways and other public spaces has been completed, however it will be a long time before the city returns to its new normal.

City crews have cleared storm debris from most of Claremont’s streets, including those south of Foothill and east of Indian Hill boulevards, as well as north of Foothill to the western city limit. This past week the crews tackled the northeast corner of town and will conclude with the portion south of Foothill and west of Indian Hill. Director of Community Services Jeremy Swan said the final streets should be free of debris by the end of next week.

The remaining large stumps will be marked for dig alerts to identify any utility lines under the trees and in the surrounding area. Once the location of gas, water and sewer lines are identified, grinding will begin in the following couple of weeks.

Swan said the initial disaster assessment estimates the cost of storm recovery at $3 million, which includes, but may not be limited to, the clean-up efforts, employee overtime, money paid to contractors and the value of the lost trees. He cautioned that this is a very preliminary number.

“Community Services staff will continue to accept damage reports from residents and respond to urgent and immediate safety hazards first. Broken branches/hangers will become more apparent over the next few weeks. This is due to the heat and the length of time since the wind storm.

Branches will now begin to die because they are no longer attached to the tree. Many residents have requested to have trees inspected due to a lean, dead branches, etc. Unless it is an emergency, it may take staff up to four to six weeks to catch up on tree inspections,” the city said in a statement.

On Tuesday a team of a dozen men made quick work of removing several large piles of tree limbs that broke away from eucalyptus street trees during the storm. Using a backhoe, the workers filled a waiting roll-off bin with the large limbs before sweeping the street and sidewalks.

The city’s tree maintenance contractor, West Coast Arborist, has finished removing trees from structures and roadways and has begun working in the city’s parks to remove downed tress and restore open spaces. The work began by addressing safety concerns, including one tree at Chaparral Park, and work through the rest of the parkland including Thompson Creek Trail.
The plan going forward is to replace the downed, or removed, trees as part of the city’s ongoing replanting cycle.

Sidewalks and curbs that have been displaced or damaged by the fallen trees will be repaired through a separate effort involving a hardscape contractor. Swan said the repair work will be rolled into the city’s annual citywide sidewalk repair contract which will be presented to the city council later this month.

Anyone with questions regarding the clean up effort, stump removal or sidewalk repair can contact the community services department at 909-399-5431.

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