RALEIGH — The city has hired a contractor to remove storm debris left in streams by the April 16 tornadoes, the latest step in a cleanup eight months in the making.
Much of the work will take place in hard-hit areas east and northeast of downtown, particularly around Marlborough Road, Skycrest Drive and Valley Stream Drive.
The storm left an estimated 1,426 trees in streams on more than 230 properties within the city limits, according to damage estimates from the city. In many spots, the debris blocks the streams, increasing the threat of flooding during heavy rain.
Jay's Lawn and Landscape Company of Wendell will be paid $264,700 to remove debris under a contract approved by the City Council this week.
The most difficult part will be navigating through people's backyards, especially those with fences, said Jay Evans, who owns the company.
The work will start in early January and take about four months.
"We've got to take a lot of fences down and put a lot of fences back up," Evans said.
The pace of cleanup efforts has drawn complaints from some residents. But city officials urge patience, saying they had to survey damage sites and, in some cases, wait for federal aid.
"When you look around at our streams and creeks, we had more damage than we actually realized," said City Councilman Eugene Weeks, who represents many of the affected neighborhoods.
The money for stream cleanup will come from stormwater utility fees, which are paid by all city residents, said Mark Senior, a senior engineer for the city.
The work is limited to streams and ditches large enough to appear on soil maps maintained by Wake County and the U.S. Geological Survey. Only sites in the path of the storm are eligible for cleanup.
City officials sent notices to property owners who qualify for help.
The contractor will notify owners seven days before showing up to remove debris. The city hopes to replace some of the fallen trees through the NeighborWoods program, which offers trees to residents who agree to water them for two years.