Three weeks ago I wrote an article about “Snowmaggedon” our snowstorm that left snow on the ground for much longer than Oregonians are used to seeing. Over a foot of snow filled up my driveway and it even had the nerve to take down the oak tree in my front yard.
The tree had been leaning over my street, but there was no sign of the roots lifting up out of the ground. Uplifting roots is a sure sign that a tree is preparing to be fall over. All it took was heavy snow falling in two waves that weighed the branches of the tree down so much that it could no longer stand up. The way the branches were leaning over the street it was just about a sure thing that if it were going to fall over that would be the place it fell. As long as nobody parked their vehicle in the street there it should fall harmlessly onto the pavement. That is exactly what happened.
This column will be loaded with pictures because words alone cannot adequately express the situation as it progressed. The tree fell sometime between 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM on Wednesday February 27, 2019. It blocked the street. The two workers, I believe they were actually from EWEB, and a neighbor of mine who volunteered to help them (he works for EWEB but in the water department) cut up the tree and piled up the branches along the curb and over the sidewalk to make a wider path for vehicles to move up and down the street.
The pile had to remain there until a work crew could come and remove it. The Eugene Public Works Department announced that crews would start at the city’s center and work their way out from there. I wasn’t sure when they would be able to remove the debris from our neighborhood in the lower South Hills of Eugene. Since they had such a wide area to cover I knew it would be a bit of a wait. There were too many areas where tree debris had to be cleared. On March 15th at 4:00 PM Eugene Public Works Tweeted that up until that time they had already cleared hazards from more than 600 trees and collected 1,100 cubic yards of debris. They still had a long way to go.
To my surprise I heard what sounded like a garbage truck moving up the street around 11:00 AM Thursday March 21st and it stopped near my house. It was the day that people on my street who were serviced by Lane Apex would have their garbage picked up. There would be no reason for them to stop at my house because Sanipac is my garbage hauler. I looked out the window and saw three City of Eugene trucks and an unusual looking backhoe.
There was a team of workers who began picking up the debris in the jaws of the backhoe loader and dropping it into one of the three dump trucks. They used chain saws to cut the debris into pieces that would then be picked up. While all of this was going on they used leaf blowers to keep cleaning up smaller debris.
My biggest surprise came when I was asked if I wanted them to take away the root-ball and what was left of the trunk. They usually can’t do that, but in this case there were hardly any roots holding it down to the ground and it was laying on the sidewalk. The lack of roots probably played a significant role in the tree lifting out of the ground with the weight of all of that snow on its branches. That wondrous piece of equipment was used to tip the trunk up and then it gobbled it up like one of the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movies.
Believe it or not, all of that work was completed in less than one hour. When they were done you couldn’t tell that there was such a mess of debris out there. The only thing left was the hole in the ground and I temporarily filled that in until I can do it properly and plant new grass there.
I checked with Brian Richardson, Eugene Public Works Public Affairs Manager, on Friday afternoon 2/22 and as of that time he said they had three 8-person crews working to clear out debris including a saw team. Each team has three trucks and the backhoe with the scooping jaws.
Let’s not forget to give a very big thank you to all of the other crews who were repairing and replacing downed telephone lines, power lines, and cable lines. As the old saying I have quoted many times before “You don’t know what you have until you have lost it.”
I’m going to risk saying this out loud though I shouldn’t, I sure hope Spring weather stays with us and we don’t have any more snow or wind storms that can bring down more trees. I think you will agree with that hope.
Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected].