Crews Get Ready for Storm Cleanup Blitz in Roanoke

Roanoke, VA - It's been a week now since last Thursday's windstorms blew through the area. It's now classified as a low-level derecho.

In Roanoke, crews are getting ready to kick off a 10-day blitz to get the brush removed from the side of the road. Other crews are tackling massive trees that fell.

Roanoke's forester says the damage caused actually uprooted more trees within city limits than the derecho that ravaged the area last year. Several experts say it was the one-two combo of the wind and the wet weather.

"The rainfall has saturated the ground. Our drought indexes are zeroed out. That means the top eight inches of soil is completely saturated and wet. When that happens, the roots are a little more loose," said Denny McCarthy with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

That makes trees susceptible to uproot in a wind event. While the number of trees uprooted is unknown, the city says they responded to more than 300 affected areas, representing thousands of trees including an abnormally high number of the city's oldest trees.

"With the ground being wet and all the saturation over the spring time, and the combination of the wind, the big trees went," said Skip Decker with the Roanoke Solid Waste Management.

In the weeks leading up to last year's storm, the weather was relatively dry, allowing the large trees to withstand the winds.

"During the derecho we were averaging 130 tons per day; but we were throwing a lot more manpower at it. Today we are averaging 40 tons," said Decker.

What crews are also finding different this year is the pattern of the storm across Roanoke, something that has changed the cleanup approach as crews are forced to stay in hard hit areas for longer amounts of time.

"When they get to that area they really have to concentrate," said Decker.

Starting Friday, the city is launching a full blitz to get the thousands of brush piles picked up from the city's streets. So if you have brush, it needs to be put out as soon as possible. This push is expected to last through next week.