ASSIGNMENT 13: 100+ tree stumps yet to be cleaned up by city two months after storm

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's been more than two months since a powerful wind storm roared through the Chippewa Valley, downing trees and knocking out power.

Even though most of Mother Nature’s fury has since been cleaned up, some of the devastation still remains.

An Eau Claire man said he's at the root of the destruction, having to deal with the potentially dangerous remains of a large tree parked right in his front yard.

In an Assignment 13 report, WEAU set out to get answers from the city as to why it wasn’t getting taken care of.

Jeff Stenberg said he was thinking about removing the big tree in front of his house on 12th Street for nearly a year.

But on May 24, Mother Nature decided to take care of part of the job for him, knocking the tree down into his front yard and coming within inches of his house.

“Just shock and awe; couldn't believe that,” Stenberg said.
Just like nearly everyone else in the west-side neighborhood with storm damage, Stenberg said he got to work removing the wreckage.

“The city came and took care of the actual trunk that was blocking the sidewalk. They took care of that for us but haven’t seen anything since,” Stenberg said.

He said over the past two months he's called the city of Eau Claire several times to get the rest of the mammoth tree removed.

“They've been telling us 'We'll do it next week, we'll do it next week' and it just hasn't gotten done,” Stenberg said.

As well as being an eyesore, Stenberg said the remains of the tree could be dangerous.

“The top of it is probably 6 foot or so. We don’t want a kid climbing on it hurting themselves,” Stenberg said.

WEAU went to the city for answers and found out it could take several months before the troublesome stump is hauled away.

“To date we have about 136 on them on a list to be removed,” said Todd Chwala, the city superintendent of Parks, Forestry and Cemeteries.

Chwala said workers are running about three weeks behind because of the massive storm cleanup and recent drought.

“Our watering operations had to be stepped up. We got a large number of newly planted trees that has really swallowed up a good portion of our manpower for the last six weeks,” Chwala said.

He said crews are now working their way through the west-side removing stumps and said the one on 12th Street is not an immediate concern.

“I know the city has a lot going on. But to have a big eyesore like that in your city, they should try to get it taken care of a little faster than that,” Stenberg said.

The city said the stump cleanup could be finished in the next three weeks and the overall storm cleanup could last well into the winter.


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