Waukesha lost 83 trees in June storm

A late June storm where wind speeds reached close to that of a Category 1 hurricane downed a total of 83 cityowned trees with an asset loss of $276,665.

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WAUKESHA — A late June storm where wind speeds reached close to that of a Category 1 hurricane downed a total of 83 cityowned trees with an asset loss of $276,665.

A majority of lost trees were the result of the storms on June 27 and June 29, where wind speeds up to 70 mph left powerlines draped across homes and assets for Waukesha and its residents, said Mona Bauer, Parks, Recreation and Forestry customer and administrative services manager. For example, trees shade homes, keeping them cooler in the summer.

Trees also prevent storm damage as they serve as wind breakage, she said.

“It’s really that loss of value,” Bauer said. “Again, trees are not just there to look pretty. It’s the stormwater runoff they help with, it’s the particles they take out of the air, helping us to have clean air.”

Between the Department of Public Works, Parks, Recreational and Forestry Department and the fire department, staff worked more than 230 hours of overtime to clean up Waukesha for a total cost of approximately $6,820, according to the summary report.

Multiple homes damaged in the storm were in the College Avenue and McCall Street Historic Districts.

“It seemed like it was fairly significant, but a lot of it was trees down and things like that,” said Charlie Griffith, Waukesha associate planner. “It wasn’t necessarily as devastating to the neighborhood as it looked like before it got cleared out.”

The Landmarks Commission has issued multiple Certificates of Appropriateness, so homeowners could begin work on their historic homes without having to wait for a Landmarks Commission meeting, Griffith said.

County cost Following the June 27 storm, the Waukesha County Highway Department spent approximately $2,800 in labor and equipment use for all brush and tree work, said Ginger Kafer of the Highway Department.

For the county, a majority of the damage occurred at Naga-Waukee War Memorial Golf Course, but it was nothing the crews weren’t able to handle, said Steve Brunner, Waukesha County Parks Systems manager.

“It was opened that next morning and we stayed open the whole week while they were doing that work,” Brunner said.

Damage assessment A total of 16 residential structures were damaged and their electrical services were compromised, according to the summary report. Four structures, two of which were on the Carroll University campus, were uninhabitable and will likely require raze orders. The remaining two structures are garages on North East Avenue, according to the report.

“Overall, campus cleanup was done very quickly,” said Sue Pierman, Carroll University public relations specialist. “Work is still progressing on Education Hall, which had roof damage due to the storm, and we will shift classes scheduled there to the lower level of North Bergstrom Hall.”

Pierman said the university is still tallying the cost of damages.

Tree replacement There isn’t a timeline for when trees will be replaced, but it will take some due to the number of trees in the city that already need replacement, Bauer said. Separate from the storm, the Parks, Recreational and Forestry Department currently has a list of 600 stumps that need removal across the city.

Moreover, Waukesha is still dealing with tree replacements for ash trees knocked out by the emerald ash borer, an invasive species of beetle responsible for the death of thousands of trees across the state.

“We’re behind on replacements,” Bauer said. “With the emerald ash borer, we had almost 8,000 ash tree replacements.”

Storm response Mayor Shawn Reilly commended the work of first responders, city staff and citizens who stepped up to help those with damaged homes or neighbors without electricity. Reilly said city employees acted quickly to define the area affected by the storm, so the cleanup process could begin as soon as possible.

“The residents did a great job of having trees on their property cut up and put on the street, or taking them to the drop-off center,” Reilly said. “I hope we don’t have any more storms, but I think we have a good system in place to immediately respond and to clean up storm damage as best as possible.”

Fire Department Assistant Chief Joe Hoffman said the department performed well in response to the storms and provided citizens with excellent service.

“I think we got a lot accomplished and I think we made the community a better place that day,” Hoffman said. “Not only our actions, I think our community made it a better place.”

When a large-scale event occurs, neighbors are the first responders, Hoffman noted. And during that weekend, Waukesha residents went above and beyond to help their neighbors, he said. “People went over to their neighbors, checked on them or pulled a branch off their driveway even before we got there,” Hoffman said. “That to me, that’s what I love about Waukesha.”

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