The powerful storms over the last two weeks will cost Fort Wayne up to $850,000 just to clean up and fix damage to trees, parks and streets, city officials said Tuesday.
City parks and public works officials updated City Council on recovery efforts after the June 29 and July 5 storms, which downed hundreds of trees, knocked out scores of street lights and left more than 78,000 people without power in the Fort Wayne area.
Al Moll, director of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation, said the city would spend between $350,000 and $500,000 to have outside contractors remove fallen street trees and debris. The storms also caused $100,000 in damage to park buildings and equipment, he said. For crews scrambling to assess and clear the damage, power outages and the extreme heat only made the task trickier, he said.
"We had excessive heat and a loss of power, which is something that you're always prepared for to an extent, but not to the extent it occurred," he said.
Moll said city officials hope to have cleanup work done by Sept. 1.
Bob Kennedy, the city's director of public works, said workers would need to make at least 5,000 repairs to damaged street lights, at a cost of roughly $250,000. He compared the storm damage to the severe ice storm that hit Fort Wayne in 2008.
"The lessons learned in the ice storm did help," he said, adding that the recent thunderstorms toppled even bigger trees and limbs.
Work crews have heaped broken tree branches into four huge piles the size of two-story buildings, Moll said. In one positive break for the city, a contractor agreed to remove the broken trees and limbs free of charge, keeping only the resulting mulch in return, Moll said.