April 17, 2012

Officials provide plans for residents cleaning up storm debris

County and city administrators provided everything from large trash containers to substantial new disposal plans for residents cleaning up their property after Saturday’s tornado.

County and city administrators provided everything from large trash containers to substantial new disposal plans for residents cleaning up their property after Saturday’s tornado.

The plans are somewhat complicated because two governments are involved: Property owners in both incorporated Wichita, and in unincorporated Sedgwick County, suffered damage. Complications also arise because there are differences between what people should do with limbs, hazardous household waste and housing debris.

Most of the debris in Wichita is tree limbs, city officials said. Much of the debris in the county, especially in the Oaklawn neighborhood, is made up of shredded pieces of buildings, including homes.

Sedgwick County authorities on Tuesday put 15 large trash bins in the Oaklawn and Pinaire Mobile Home Park areas. They said household debris such as broken lumber should be placed in these Dumpsters, which they say will be emptied frequently.

County officials said household debris from those areas should not include tree debris or household hazardous waste, such as paint or chemicals. Residents of the Oaklawn and Pinaire Mobile Home Park areas should put any tree limb debris at the curbs for pickup. It needs to go to the curbs because government employees, wary of liability issues, won’t walk across private property to pick up debris.

To help get rid of limbs in both the city and the county, the United Way of the Plains is gathering volunteers, who will be identified with wristbands and who will be coordinated with private property owners to come on their property to help move limbs to the curb. Officials want anyone coming onto private property to be clearly identified and authorized by property owners, said Delane Butler, vice president of marketing for United Way of the Plains.

That agency is asking local property owners who have suffered tornado damage to register at the Oaklawn Community Center, 2937 Oaklawn Drive, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Owners can identify the type of cleanup needed and United Way will coordinate volunteers to begin cleanup work.

United Way of the Plains asks that volunteers come to its volunteer reception center in Oaklawn Light House Community Church, 3401 E. 47th St., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Because of limited parking there, volunteers are asked to park at The Opportunity Project (TOP), 4600 S. Clifton.

The United Way received hundreds of calls from potential volunteers, but so far not many calls from residents needing their help. But they understand storm-affected people are busy and distracted, and are asking that they call 211 to get volunteer help.

Sedgwick County’s Public Works Office is sending out a truck today to pick up household hazardous waste. The Sedgwick County Public Works truck will be clearly identified and will drive through the Oaklawn, Pinaire Mobile Home Park, and 71st Street South neighborhoods between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Sedgwick County Household Hazardous Waste Facility is collecting any household hazardous waste from the hours of 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today through Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For city of Wichita residents: Anyone in the designated “direct path” of the tornado (see the city’s map, with the direct path boundaries) will get city help, starting Thursday in removing limbs and brush. Residents in that area are asked to move brush and limbs to the curbs.

“This effort will go on at least 10 days or so,” said Ben Nelson, strategic services manager for Wichita’s public works and utilities.

City employees won’t walk across property to retrieve debris. Residents needing help to move tree debris to the curbs may call the United Way of the Plains at 211. Volunteers will not haul away debris, but will help residents get it to the curb.

Outside the designated Wichita tornado path zone, city residents are on their own to remove tree debris. They can either haul it themselves to designated landfills, or call private contractors, Nelson said. He said residents may call 316-265-1300 for more information about the cleanup in Wichita.

Volunteers so far are concentrating on cleanup and not yet on rebuilding, Butler said.

The United Way is telling volunteers to bring basic tools — gloves and any hand tools that might be useful. Volunteers must be 14 or older.

“We are planning on keeping this going as long as it is needed, including into the weekend,” Butler said.

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