SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Remember the 2013 ice storm?
It was big in Sioux Falls and it cost the city about $8 million to clean up from that storm. Of that $6 million was reimbursed through FEMA, a city official said.
The city’s emergency manager Regan Smith told KELOLAND News and during a July 12 informational meeting that the costs of major storms are for city labor and equipment.
The 2013 storm has been the most costly in roughly eight years, Smith said.
What doesn’t get done while cleaning up from a storm
There are direct costs to clean debris after a storm but there are also losses.
When city crews cleanup after storms, it means regular work doesn’t get done.
Smith said work such as stump grinding and repairing pot holes gets put on hold while city employees from parks and recreation and the city street department clean up storm debris.
If storm clean up takes a week that can mean that seven to 10 blocks of city streets may not get needed asphalt, the city’s streets operation manager Dustin Hansen said during the July 12 council informational meeting.
The city plans to use about 30,000 to 40,000 tons of asphalt a year or about 1,500 tons a week during the roughly May through November construction season, Hansen said.
A week of storm cleanup can also mean that 150 potholes won’t be filled, Hansen said.
“It’s a huge impact on our operations,” Hansen said of storm cleanup.
Kelby Mieras, the city’s parks operation manager, said at the July 12 meeting that stump grinding of emerald ash borer (EAB) removals was postponed during storm cleanup.
FEMA rules guide the coordinated team response
Smith told KELOLAND News that storm response involves a unified command team with members that include police and fire. There are immediate responses and there are responses that come later such as cleaning up the debris from the storm.
“It’s gotten much easier with the technology we have,” Smith said of cleanup response.
The city receives reports of storm damage in a partnership with the Helpline Center. The work orders are mapped with technology so that crews can respond faster, Smith said.
The city has plans for storm cleanup but FEMA rules guide that plan. FEMA has rules about cleaning up debris from private property.
For the two May storms, the city did not take private tree branches or trees set in the public-right-of-way.
The city was responsible for tree debris that fell in the city right-of-way.
“We would need to get prior approval from FEMA to collect a private tree debris,” Smith said in the July 12 meeting.
Smith said if it is a significantly large event, the city can get prior FEMA approval to collect private debris at the curbside. For such storms, that would be an efficient way to handle tree debris, Smith said.
In May, the city decided to provide free drop-off of debris at a city site.
Building permits, planted trees reveal storm damage
The 2013 ice storm spawned Operation Timber Strike. More than 900 trees and 25,000 branches were removed during Operation Timber Strike.
By April 9, 2018 about 1,800 trees had been planted in the city parks, according to an April 9, 2018, KELOLAND News story.
The National Weather Service said three EF-2 tornadoes touched down in Sioux Falls on Sept. 10, 2019. The storm also had hail.
From Sept. 11 through Nov. 20 2019, the city issued 134 permits for re-shingling projects at residences in Sioux Falls. The city issued seven permits for residential re-shingling for the same period in 2018, according to a Nov. 26, 2019, KELOLAND News story.