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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
Storm Debris Affects City's Public Service Schedule
Public Service Dept.
July 1, 2011 - City of Knoxville Public Service crews have picked up more than five million pounds of brush and debris so far in the aftermath of a pair of violent storms that hit the city last week.

That's more than four times as much tonnage as the city would normally carry during the same number of days during this time of year.

David Brace, deputy director for the city's Public Service Department, said Friday that the clean-up effort is continuing and the city's regular brush schedules are still suspended for at least the next week.

Most public service department employees will be off this weekend, the first real break for many of them since the evening storm on Tuesday, June 21 that knocked down hundreds of trees blocking scores of city streets and leaving more than 120,000 Knoxville Utility Board customers without power.

In response crews began working around the clock that night first trying to open the way for emergency responders with the police and fire departments and for utility crews before focusing on clearing the all the streets and later beginning to clear debris.

Another storm two days later sent more trees and limbs crashing into city streets.

"Obviously those first few days we worked 24/7 and then we worked on the weekend," Brace said. "This week we've worked every evening until 7:30 p.m. (the department's workday begins at 7 a.m.) and we've made a lot of progress. There is still a lot to do, though, and we'll look at the situation at the end of next week and decide when we can resume normal operations."

So far the department has carried 888 truckloads of debris totaling 2,708 tons - to the city's mulch contractor since June 22.

In contrast during the same period in 2010 the city's Public Service Department carried 342 loads of brush and debris totaling 706 tons.

Brace said the department received hundreds of requests about downed trees and limbs in the first days after the events - which did not include downed trees in city parks, on greenways and at other city-owned property.

He said that Knoxville residents don't need to call 311 right now with pick up requests.

"Our managers are out in the field every day assessing the situation and are focused on the hardest hit areas first," he said. "We're going to get to everyone so please be patient." Crews have also been clearing out stormwater drains and pipes, along with ditches during the past few days.

Most of the public service staff is working on the cleanup including groups that normally concentrate on areas like maintenance, horticulture or construction.

"During the first week of a major storm event our normal duties such as preventative maintenance at recreation centers or park maintenance go on the back burner," Brace said. "As we move out of the major debris removal phase, our crews will then return to their normal, routine duties."

"That means we'll have to push hard to catch up on the day-to-day things later, but that's been the pattern this year," he said.

The department also had to alter its normal duties after two severe storms in late April and after flooding in some parts of the city in February. This spring's events are on top of several winter weather storms handled by the department starting in December of 2010.
For Immediate Release
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