After northern Utah was crushed by hurricane strength winds last week, cities were left with hundreds of felled trees and damaged properties.
On Thursday, the city of Bounitful sent out SOS calls to other municipalities in the state asking for help to clear the trees and debris.
Ten members of the Orem Public Works department volunteered by Thursday night, and for the next three days spent more than 12 hours a day carrying loads of trees to the green waste dump.
They joined volunteers from other cities and the National Guard who were on site cleaning streets and neighborhoods.
Orem provided five dump trucks to help. The significance of the destruction to trees cannot be overstated, according to Rick Sabey, Orem’s Storm Water field supervisor. Sabey volunteered all three days.
“Residents had been given 11 dump areas to bring fallen trees,” Sabey said. “At the end of the three days, only two lots ware partially empty. There were hundreds of trucks there helping.”
Sabey figures he drove about 14 truck loads per day, and that was just for Bountiful. Other cities such as Farmington sustained damage on a similar level.
Sabey and Reed Price, Orem’s Maintenance Division manager, said it was a good preparation exercise if Orem ever experienced a similar disaster.
Price used to be the emergency manager in Orem years ago, saying they had practiced for everything from earthquakes to floods but wind never came into the discussion.
“What it’s done for us is it has helped us realize this is a possible disaster we might deal with,” Price said.
Price said his first call was to Heath Stevenson, Orem’s current emergency manager. He has everything ready. Documentation is important in the learning process, including: how much fuel was used and miles traveled.
The pair learned that it is helpful to have information in one place, online and on site.
“It was not overwhelming for us,” Price said. “We took hard copy, made an online format (for statistical reporting) and stored it in one spot. This is so the paperwork is all ready in case FEMA needs information for (disaster) reimbursement.”
Chris Tschirki, director of Public Works said the immediate volunteerism shows the kind of people that work for Orem.
“It speaks to the nature of employees at Public Works,” Tschirki said.
The Public Works employees aren’t sure if they will be called upon to go again, but Tschiriki said they will be ready if needed.