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Rain, wind keep work crews busy with clean up projects

Bad weather and falling trees have disrupted work schedules forcity street and county road workers both during and after recentstorms, officials said.

“It does take away from city and county crews’ regular jobs anytime they have to go clean that up,” said Clifford Galey,Brookhaven-Lincoln County Civil Defense director.

District Two Supervisor and Board President Bobby J. Watts saida county crew had to stop work on an eight-mile stretch of Furr’sMill Road earlier this week due to the rain. He was hopeful therain would let up to allow work to resume Monday.

“We’ve been dodging rain all week,” Watts said.

Galey estimated that more than 30 trees had fallen across thecounty during this month’s storms. He said volunteer firefightershad also been lending a hand with clean up where needed.

“They have been out in all areas of the county helping,” Galeysaid.

Responding to the downed trees, though, does not stop withclearing blocked roads and streets during a storm. In the city,sidewalk and ditch work get attention after the rains leave thearea.

“A tree goes down, that’s another sidewalk,” said StreetDepartment employee Roy Dixon Thursday as crews worked on thesidewalk along West Chippewa Street.

A large oak tree fell on that street during a storm Tuesday.City and Entergy officials estimated 10-12 trees had fallen in thecity this month.

“More are probably going to fall with the ground as wet as itis,” said Kenny Goza, Entergy customer accounts manager.

Some sidewalks, including ones on West Chippewa Street and StormAvenue, sustained damage, said Jimmy Furlow, city trafficsupervisor.

Mayor Bob Massengill mentioned concerns about some trees fallingin city ditches. Cleaning those is also occupying workers’time.

“We’ve got to get them out to keep the ditches from being dammedup,” Massengill said.

Mississippi Forestry Commission and city officials attributedthe falling trees to heavy rains that have saturated the ground andhigh winds during the intense storms. MFC District Forester WilberShell indicated that leaves catch the wind and also make trees moresusceptible to falling.

“The leaves are a big problem,” Shell said.

Adding to the problem are trees in the city, like oak trees,that do not have extensive root systems.

Shell said oak trees have a lateral root system that goes acrossthe ground, unlike a pine tree’s root system that extends into theground. He alluded to the potential over the years of an oak tree’sroot system being cut during work on street, sidewalk or otherservices, thus introducing decay and making it hollow.

In an effort to alleviate the problem in the future, Massengillsaid he would like to get professional tree cutting assistance toidentify possible hazards with leaning trees. The city could thenbudget to have those trees cut.

Aldermen this week approved cutting down a leaning tree onWarren Avenue near Jackson Street. Goza said the tree is alreadyleaning against power lines.

“That tree’s pretty bad,” Goza said.

Officials estimated the average cost of cutting a tree isbetween $1,000 and $1,400. The city, Entergy and BellSouth usuallyshare in the cost.

“If their lines are in jeopardy, they’ve been helpful withthat,” Massengill said. “We work well together.”

Massengill stressed that city crews cannot go onto privateproperty to address tree concerns. He said the city may act if atree is on or falls onto city property.

“The tree has got to be on city property for us to becomeinvolved in it,” said Massengill, adding that city crews haveassisted in removal of debris that property owners had brought tothe curb.