Frequently Asked Questions
General Tree Debris Pick-Up
Q: What is the process?
A: The city has been mapped out into zones, and crews are working their way through the entire city, zone-by-zone, picking up as much debris as they can when they get to each street. Residents can see a map of which zones are underway on our website. It may take several days to clear each zone, depending on the volume of debris. Every street will be reached at least two times for tree debris removal.
In the early days of the disaster, we focused on clearing debris off roads to make them passable, using snow routes as a guide. Our current efforts are focused on picking up curb-side debris.
Q: Which streets are done first?
A: The order that streets are cleared within each zone depends largely on which contractor is currently working in that zone, the size of their equipment, the narrowness of the street, the traffic volumes, and whether parked cars are blocking debris piles. It’s often more efficient to do residential streets first, which can be cleared with limited traffic control setup (fewer cones or advance warning signage is necessary on slower, residential roads). Main arterials, which carry heavier traffic volumes at higher speeds, are typically cleared on the weekends under lower traffic volumes, with more advanced traffic control setup.
Q: Why do I still see debris in my neighborhood, even though crews made a first pass?
A: Crews pick up everything they can when they get to each street. The contractor working in your zone may have been using vehicles or equipment that were too large to fit down the street – such as cul-de-sacs or dead ends where they can’t easily turn around. If this was the case, your street has been logged, and a crew with smaller vehicles will return to pick up debris. There may also have been parked cars blocking debris piles. This will be picked up when crews make a second pass. Another reason you may see debris after a first pass it because residents or contractors have placed out new debris piles for pick-up during the second pass.
Q: When are crews coming to my street?
A: It is very difficult for us to predict when we will be in specific neighborhoods, as crews encounter a variety of different situations at each street and we are not able to predict how long it will take to clear each zone before moving onto the next. However, residents can get a general idea of whether their area is being worked on by referring to the online map.
Q: How long will this clean-up effort take?
A: This is not like a typical “curbside pickup” program we may be accustomed to. This is a major disaster recovery operation, which has impacted the entire city and which will take significant time to complete. We will return to each street more than one time. The entire process will take months.
Q: Why did they take some of my debris, but not all of it?
A: Crews are currently working on grabbing bulk piles of debris that are easily accessible by crane. It could be that a parked car or a nearby tree impeded the crane operations. Crews also won't be able to take debris piles that are entangled in utility lines (please call your utility company if this is the case). However, all debris will be picked up. If crews couldn’t take something during the first pass, it will be picked up in future passes.
Q: Why didn't debris located at my cul-de-sac or dead-end street get picked up when crews where in my neighborhood?
A: Crews are currently using large haul vehicles that consist of a truck, trailer, and crane in order to move the most material. They may not be able to maneuver into narrow or tight streets using their current equipment. They will return in a smaller vehicle that will make getting into dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs more manageable. Every street, including dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs, will have debris picked up in multiple passes.
Q: Can you come back to my street and pick up the remaining piles?
A: We need to complete a first pass of the entire community before we return for a second pass. All neighborhoods will receive a second pass.
Q: Is the City using additional forces to help with the clean-up effort?
A: In addition to City crews, we also have DOT crews and contractor crews who specialize in high volume debris removal. Crews are working 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week. The contractor vehicles are specifically equipped to haul large volumes of tree debris, and on average, can carry the equivalent of 5 standard city truck loads. Their vehicles are carrying approximately 150 cubic yards.
Q: Why isn’t the National Guard being used for tree debris pickup?
A: We requested and received the support of the National Guard during the early days of our disaster recovery efforts, through Linn County Emergency Management and Iowa Homeland Security. The National Guard was deployed by Thursday, August 13 with the mission to clear critical infrastructure; they accompanied electrical utility workers with clearing debris for electrical power restoration. The equipment and vehicles used by the Guard are not conducive to long-term, large scale debris management; the City has subsequently contracted with a firm that specializes in large debris clean-up and hauling, and who are specifically equipped for this type of disaster recovery.
Q: Are you picking up tree debris from the alley?
A: We ask residents not to haul debris into the alley for pickup. We will clear a path into alleys to ensure our Solid Waste and Recycling vehicles can access collection bins, but we will not be hauling debris left at the edge of alleys. We are picking up tree and storm debris curbside.
Q: Is the City charging residents to pick up tree debris?
A: No. Tree debris removal is being done curb-side at no charge to residents.
Q: Why are some trucks only partially filled to capacity?
A: Trucks are not filled to full capacity to reduce the risk of debris falling out onto the roadway. All truckloads are being tracked with debris monitors, and the contractor is paid by volume (not by truckload).
Q: What happens if something on my property was damaged by City crews or equipment as they were removing tree debris from my yard?
A: Minor property damage sustained during debris removal performed by the City or its contractors such as lawn or landscaping will need to be repaired by the property owner. You can report more significant damage sustained during debris removal performed by the City or its contractors such as sidewalk, pavement, or structural damage to the City’s Risk Services Division:
Q: Are you picking up debris on private roads or what should those homeowners do to ensure the debris is picked up?
A: Yes, but we need approval through the Homeowners Association to drive equipment onto private roads. Please email the name and contact information for the neighborhood’s HOA representative to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can facilitate this.
Q: How is debris at mobile home parks getting picked up?
A: Properties owned and maintained by a commercial enterprise, such as mobile home parks, are typically insured for disaster-related costs. Debris pick-up will be undertaken by the property manager, not the City.
Q: Can the City save the wood for refurnishing purposes, or allow residents to enter drop-off sites and take wood for personal use?
A: Residents can save wood for personal use such as refurnishing, firewood, etc., but will need to collect any wood they want to save from their property or their neighbor’s property, prior to it being picked up by crews. Once the wood is picked up, it will go to a drop-off site for mulching as well as appropriate FEMA documentation, and is not available for residents at this time. For safety reasons, we cannot allow residents onto drop-off sites while work is underway where heavy machinery is operated and there are significant volumes of large truck traffic and debris piles.
Q: Are you picking up non-tree debris, such as shingles, siding, damaged swing-sets, etc.?
Yes, curbside collection of storm damage debris is currently underway. Residents should not expect crews on their regular garbage day; crews will focus on areas that have already had a first round of tree debris removal (which created more room at the curb). They will also come through more than one time to collect items damaged in the storm. This is for storm-related debris and damaged items only, and not intended to be a bulky item collection program. Storm-related debris piles should be kept separate from tree debris. It is very important that construction material is not mixed in with the tree debris. A full list of items accepted curbside can be found on the City’s website.
Q: I had a large tree fall in the back yard. Will the City or National Guard clear trees from alleys or do I need to get that to the curb?
A: Residents will need to place all tree debris at the curb. We cannot go onto private property to remove tree debris.
Q: How do I determine whether my tree can be saved or needs to be removed?
A: The City would like to save as many trees as possible. Contact an ISA certified arborist and have it evaluated. Links to arborists on our website
Q: My neighbor has a private tree that concerns me, what should I do?
A: Residents are not able to report private trees that need to be removed to the City. Any concerns about private trees must be handled privately. A certified arborist can be hired to determine and document risk. Information on finding a certified arborist is available on the City’s website.
Q: Will insurance cover the damage?
A: Contact your homeowners’ insurance to find out if your damage is covered.
FIND AN ARBORIST
City Trees in Right-of-Way
STREET TREE FINDER
Q: If a tree in the City right-of-way has fallen on my property, is it considered the City’s tree and the City’s responsibility to clean up?
A: Tree debris located on private property, even if it was a street tree, will need to be cleaned up by the property owner and placed near the curb. All tree debris for this storm event is being picked up by the City as long as debris is placed along the right-of-way. Do not drag tree debris into parks.
Q: Will the City take care of the stump left in the right-of-way?
A: The City will grind tree stumps left in the right-of-way. Crews are currently addressing urgent branch and tree removals that pose safety hazards. They will move on to assessment of trees for structural stability and stump removal after dangerous trees have been taken care of.
Q: Will the City review trees located in the right-of-way?
A: City trees will be assessed over the next several months to determine if they will survive long term.
Q: How can I report a concern with a City tree?
A: Please use our online form to report concern or damage to a City tree: Report a Tree Concern
Q: The City was in the process of removing an ash tree that was in the right-of-way that has now fallen onto my property. Will they come and remove it and take the brush?
A: The City will finish removing the tree in the right-of-way. If part of it broke and landed on private property, the property owner will need to drag the debris to the curb.
Q: Will the City remove damaged ash trees?
A: If the tree is in the right-of-way, it will be removed eventually with a priority placed on a damaged ash as opposed to a healthy one. An ash tree on private property is the homeowner’s responsibility.
Q: Will the City replant damaged trees in the right-of-way?
A: The City will replant trees in the right-of-way, however, a plan will need to be developed for the massive replacement of trees lost in the storm.
Q: A City tree in front of the neighbors’ yard landed in my yard. Who is responsible for cleaning it up?
A: You are responsible for cleaning up debris that landed in your yard. If the debris is dragged to the curb, it will be collected by City crews.