Storm damage cleanup going slowly

The month of July got off to a bad start for those in the path of strong storms that ripped through Michiana.

For some, the foul weather is a distant memory, for others—it’s a continuing nightmare.

“I’m killing myself out here,” said Juan Alvarez, who owns a rental home on Brookfield Street. I had to call off work. I got a two week call off to try to get this cleaned up for the homeowner and it’s rough right now.”

The Alvarez property lost its porch to falling trees, and suffered damage to the roof, gutters, and fence.

Since the storm, the union laborer from Illinois has reluctantly become a full time woodworker.

“I’m putting in like 13 hours a day since Monday. Trying and trying to clear it up, get it ready, get it all done,” said Alvarez.

On Thursday, crews from the City of South Bend used heavy machinery to remove a downed tree from city property nearby. Juan and others are trying to do the same kind of work—by hand.

“At first it was sickening, but as I see progress, I’m kind of cheering up a little bit, but it is taking a while longer than I want it,” said Bonita Heard, who lost several large trees in her backyard. “There’s so much to clean up out here, these trees are huge and heavy. Just pieces of it that they cut is heavy, you can hear it when it falls.”

Ryan Fuller has been helping with the cleanup and suspects it will take another two weeks or so to complete. “Like I said, it’s a long process but we making it, just taking it one day at a time.”

It’s a situation that even the professionals find challenging. “I mean I'm sure there's been worse but this is pretty bad,” said Chandler King, a tree removal worker with Kachur Tree Service. “14 hour days of removing trees from houses, picking up pieces of houses, and doing whatever, I mean.”
There’s a pile of debris at South Bend’s Organic Resources Facility. It is where most of the storm damage has been dumped. One employee commented that the mound was already the size of a city block and likely to expand further in the weeks to come.

City residents can continue to bring their storm damage debris to the facility free of charge through August 15th. The city will also continue to collect yard waste left at the curbside through next week.

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