Cleaning up storm-damaged trees could take months: Winnipeg mayor
Published Tuesday, October 15, 2019 6:00PM CST
WINNIPEG — Southern Manitoba remains in cleanup mode this week after a massive storm left a trail of destruction.
Thousands of trees in Winnipeg were knocked down or destroyed.
The damage across the city is significant and it could be months before things return to normal.
The sound of chainsaws and wood chippers blared Tuesday in several Winnipeg neighbourhoods as homeowners and professionals were busy cleaning up the mess left behind.
The winter weather in early autumn left streets and yards littered with severed tree limbs and broken branches including around Susan Dojack's home.
"It was sort of dangerous even driving because these trees are old they're just losing so much,” said Dojack. “It was really sad in our backyard we've lost a number of trees in the back."
Approximately 30,000 trees on city-owned land were either destroyed or damaged.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said the cleanup of trees alone will take months.
Bowman said that could create a whole new problem: if debris from downed or damaged elms isn't removed promptly and properly it could lead to the further spread of Dutch Elm Disease.
"It could have catastrophic effects on our urban tree canopy beyond what we've seen in the last few days,” said Bowman. "There’s real-time sensitivity to trying to develop a plan to protect our overall tree canopy, the trees that have survived the immediate storm."
A concern echoed by arborist Gerry Engel.
"You don't want to leave that,” said Engel. “It’s not legal to store elm wood, it helps spread the disease."
The number of affected trees mentioned by the mayor doesn't include the ones knocked down or damaged in people's yards.
Engel, who's also the president of an organization called Trees Winnipeg, said the impact of the storm on private property has also been significant but he's optimistic the city's tree canopy will bounce back.
"Nature's got an incredible way of rebounding from things like this and trees in particular, the reaction wood growth we'll get next year as a result of this is going to be significant,” said Engel.
Residents are being asked not to leave debris from privately-owned trees on public land. The city's directing people to take it to Brady Road landfill or one of the city's 4R depots.
That policy prompted Coun. Kevin Klein to call for the opening of community drop-off sites for tree debris — an idea he said came from a resident.
Klein thinks it would help speed up the cleanup.
"That way they don't have to travel long distances or more people could help their neighbours,” he said.
Dojack and her husband plan on cleaning up the mess in their yard on their own; she said preventing the spread of Dutch Elm Disease will be top-of-mind.
"There is a special place at the dump and they direct you where these trees can go because of the beetle,” said Dojack.