Cleanup Begins

PARKERSBURG – City crews were out in force Wednesday, cleaning up branches and trees knocked to the ground by Tuesday afternoon’s powerful thunderstorm.

At Quincy Park, floodwall maintenance mechanic Bob Starcher was feeding branches into a wood chipper alongside laborers from the building and grounds department in an effort to clear debris from Quincy Park.

“We’re pulling manpower from anywhere we can,” Parkersburg Public Works Director Rick Lemley said.

“We worked past midnight (Tuesday) night, and we started about 6 o’clock this morning (Wednesday),” he said.

Portions of at least four city streets remained closed Wednesday afternoon, most due to trees down on power lines, like the one that landed on top of St. Marys Avenue resident Mike Howard’s Kia Sorrento.

Howard was home when a portion of the massive tree fell Tuesday afternoon.

“I was kind of glad we weren’t in it,” he laughed, when asked what he thought when he saw the branch on top of his vehicle.

Howard and his family are among thousands of Wood County residents still waiting for power to be restored.

“We just went and got some battery-powered lights and sat it out,” he said.

Portions of Randolph Drive and Summers Street were also closed as city crews waited for Mon Power workers to determine whether it was safe to remove trees from downed lines.

Lemley said the city’s parks were hit hard by the storm. In addition to damage at Quincy, numerous trees and branches had been piled up at City Park, which closed for several hours in the aftermath of Tuesday’s storm. A 15-year-old employee of the Wood County Recreation Commission’s summer program was injured when a tree fell on her there during the storm.

“Once the streets are cleared, we’ll be back in the parks,” Lemley said.

Numerous trees fell in Belpre’s Howes Grove Park in the storm, most of which had been removed Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re slowly getting cleaned up,” Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said.

Early Tuesday morning judges from the America in Bloom program were in Belpre for the Belpre in Bloom judging when it was recommended the city inventory its trees, Lorentz said. That number will be smaller after at least five large trees were felled at Howes Grove because of the storm, he said.

Nary a problem in Vienna Wednesday, according to Mayor Randy Rapp.

“We dodged the bullet,” he said.

Rapp said no trees were felled because of the storm, which meant the fire department didn’t have to remove them from streets.

Tuesday’s storm, while of intense wind, didn’t have the same duration of rain as several previous storms in the last month that overwhelmed drainage systems, Rapp said.

“Yesterday wasn’t too bad,” he said.