Storm cleanup and repairs well underway

The worst is over but weeks of cleanup work remain ahead for Red Deer.

City crews’ first order of business is cleaning up the city’s parks and trails to ensure they are safe and can be opened to the public. Most of the best-known trails are open now but residents should avoid those not on a list posted on the city’s website at Signs are posted at trails that are off limits.

Everywhere one looks there is evidence of the havoc wreaked by last Tuesday’s windstorm.

The most obvious hazards have been taken care of but amputated trees and piles of debris abound.

A trail to Kerry Wood Nature Centre was cleared in time for the Woody’s Triathlon. It was just a first-pass effort however. Sawed-off trees still lay where they fell, in several cases crushing parts of the fence around Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary.

“The reality is this cleanup could take up to weeks,” said City of Red Deer spokesperson Tara Shand. “It will take us quite some time to get through all of the cleanup that has to take place.”

City workers have been busy inspecting trees throughout the city, looking not only for those obviously damaged, but those that may have been weakened. Trees that may once have easily withstood Central Alberta’s regular winds may not be so resilient now.

To handle the unexpected workload, the city has been juggling shifts and reassigning staff to get cleanup work done as soon as possible.

The scope of the damage — both in dollars and the number of trees — is still being determined.

Outside the parks, cleanup and repairs were also underway.

At Village Mall, contractors were busy fixing damage to the TD Bank, where an awning was torn apart.

The windows at nearby Mark’s Work Wearhouse were still boarded up but a banner assured shoppers that they were “Now Open for Business.” A steady stream of customers appeared undeterred by the damage, which also included losing large chunks of decorative awning off the storefront.

Contractors could also be seen at several buildings in Riverside Industrial Park. A large chunk of metal roofing or side cladding lay in a twisted heap in the grass near an entrance.

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