Storm Cleanup Leaves Massive Debris Piles

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The pile of storm debris that the City of East Lansing has accumulated will dwarf you.

Standing 16 feet high and stretching 130 feet long, branches and limbs that once stood in East Lansing now sit in a 5,000 ton pile.

"We estimate we have over 8000 cubic yards of debris at this point in time," said East Lansing Environmental Services Administrator Catherine Deshambo. "We expect it to go probably over 10,000 when we're done."

It's the result of a four-month effort after a December ice storm downed too many power lines to count and downed limbs across Mid-Michigan.

Ninety percent of EL residents have left their debris curbside. The city hopes to have its cleanup effort wrapped up in a week and a half.

Friday morning, the Department of Public Works took pictures next to the hulking pile of storm debris.

"This is nice to have this process completed," said Deshambo. "Our staff has just done a tremendous job sticking to this and really really sticking this out to the end."

No Curbside Pickup in Delta Township

Delta Township has a hulking pile of its own, summed up in two words by the township manager.

"It's huge," said Richard Watkins.

It's already the second pile the township has collected since the ice storm. Residents bring their debris to the Players Club on Canal Rd. where backhoes and township employees help unload it, a process sees as easier for some residents.

"They can bring it here pretty much any time rather than waiting for someone to come pick it up," Watkins said. "I know we have a lot of them that would rather do that."

The current strategy has worked in the past, Watkins said. He has received a few complaints, and is open to revisiting the township's plan.

But he says he's pleased with the way the community has come together.

"[It's a] Neighbors help neighbors type of thing," he said. "We've seen a lot of that."

Eaton Rapids also is not picking up debris curbside, citing costs and a high quantity of items.

The City of Lansing offered its residents two options -- curbside pickup, and drop off in Washington Park.

"Anytime we're giving residents options it becomes a lot easier on them," said Paul Dykema, assistant superintendent in the Lansing Public Service Department. "If they're not home for the week before they come by, gives them an option to still get rid of their brush free of charge. Some people don't want to have it in front of their house for a week, ten days at a time so they can bring it to Washington Park and drop it off or they can wait for us to come by and pick it up."

Where does it go from here?

Most local cities and townships are planning on making the debris into wood chips. The City of Lansing says it may distribute its supply to residents free of charge. It also says it will look into sending some to wood-burning power plants.

East Lansing on the other hand plans to use its chips in parks, while giving some to help power MSU.

"We've done that before for their fuel plant and I think that will be a partnership that we'll be able to engage in again," said Deshambo. "There won't be any waste, we'll be able to utilize everything that we have."

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