Cleanup begins with trees, fences |

Cleanup begins with trees, fences

by Amy Alonzo

The air in Douglas County was filled with the sound of howling wind Thursday. On Friday, the air was filled with the sound of chainsaws as county employees and private citizens started cleaning up the chaos.

Dozens of trees blew over in Thursday’s winds, which reached up to 80 mph.

“Compared to our flood in the later part of January, this is a lot more damage,” said Douglas County Parks Supervisor Ryan Stanton as crews cleaned up the mess from several downed trees in Lampe Park.

Stanton said crews were “incredibly busy” cleaning up damage from the storm. He estimated that by Friday morning crews had already cleaned up about 15 to 20 downed trees.

Some of the worst damage was at the old courthouse and the old senior center, Stanton said. High winds and saturated ground contributed to the extra damage.

“It’s pretty comparable to two years ago,” he said.

The winter of 2014-15, which also had storms with high wind, had the added challenge of snow, Stanton said. “It could have been a lot more damage if it had snowed this go around.”

In Aspen Mobile Home Park, Birch Straughan skipped his morning bike ride and spent Friday morning cleaning up shingles and debris that had blown around the park.

“I think some of our shingles are gone too,” he said.

Just across the street from Lampe Park, Ron Lee lost a 34-foot blue spruce in his yard.

Lee said he was outside reinforcing his fence, which was swaying in the howling wind Thursday, when he saw the tree topple.

“That was a heartbreaker there,” he said. “My great-uncle planted it 30 years ago.”

When the tree fell it snapped an adjacent street sign in half.

Lee, who operates a lawn care business, said he received numerous calls asking if he did tree or fence work — he doesn’t.

“I could have been rich,” he joked.

Lee said that inside the house, he and his wife could hear the house creaking and buckling. With some of the heavier gusts, nails started coming through the ceiling.

“It was kind of freaky,” he said. “You could hear everything shift.”