Walla Walla city crews continue storm cleanup

Officials say residents “should be responsible” for debris, though many piled it onto streets.

Storm debris from broken limbs spill out from a curbside along North 9th Avenue early Tuesday afternoon.

Storm debris from broken limbs spill out from a curbside along North 9th Avenue early Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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WALLA WALLA — Cleanup continues around town after last week’s big blow, with city crews taking on more than they expected due to residents pushing debris into the streets.

“While we are aware that some citizens are placing debris collected on private property out near the curb for public works crews to remove and dispose of, we are not encouraging this and ask that citizens be responsible for clean up and disposal of debris that originates on private property,” city public works manager Mori Struve stated.

Thursday evening’s short-lived but potent storm walloped Walla Walla with 60-mph-gusts, leaving close to 2,000 homes and businesses without electricity, some for nearly two days.

Tons of downed limbs and leaves also littered lawns — although Struve said it was “much less” than a windstorm in 2008 — but some of the debris was later piled curbside on city streets by homeowners.

Struve noted crews cannot determine who dumped or even how much debris was dumped on city streets, and he added there is no plan to go after those who did.

Debris clearing on public streets is expected to continue through this week. Cleanup at city parks is expected to go well into next week.

Sudbury Landfill officials said so far they have been able to accommodate the excess green waste with no extra staff, and the only hard felt consequences for them were Friday and Saturday, when at times close to 30 customers waited for their loads to be weighed.

“It was quite a lot. And we managed and we got through it. And people were pretty patient,” solid waste manager Damon Taam said.

The excess debris will eventually result in an uptick in costs for chipping and mulching, but that just means the city will have that much more compost to sell back to residents.

“We need to support the system that is in place and recycling the product means buying the product,” Taam added.

If they haven’t already, residents can use their one-time free landfill pass that arrived in their January bill to pay the tipping fee, which is $45.30 per ton for green waste and a minimum of $7.20 per trip.

After the major windstorm in January of 2008, green waste tipping fees were temporarily waived at the landfill, but city officials have no plans to do the same for people hauling their own debris from Thursday’s storm.

Tonnage and preliminary damage estimates should also be available next week, Struve wrote.

The landfill is open Monday-Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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