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More than 120 homes and garages were damage by the Aug. 13 storm.

Many still feeling storm's impact

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News Farmington,Minnesota 55024 http://www.farmingtonindependent.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/10/0613/web-storm-damage.jpg?itok=ttlAfiFb
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Many still feeling storm's impact
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The Aug. 13 tornado that damaged more than 120 homes in Farmington only took a few minutes to rip through the central section of the community, but the damage it caused took nearly 10 days to clean up.

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Though there are countless trees missing and quite a few homeowners are still dealing with repairs and insurance claims, the city of Farmington maintenance crews were able to wrap up most of the post-tornado clean-up efforts this week.

Just how much the tornado actually cost the city of Farmington for services like collecting debris and downed trees hasn't been figured just yet. Everything associated with the storm cleanup is being recorded separately and will be tallied once all costs are submitted, according to city of Farmington director of municipal services Todd Reiten.

Farmington police notified Reiten of the storm's damage and the need for cleanup services around 3:45 a.m. the morning of the tornado. Reiten responded immediately, and called several employees in to work early. The first of the street maintenance crews was on duty by 4:30 a.m.

The day of the tornado was a busy one for city crews, Reiten said. He also brought in parks employees to help with some of the work that had to be done just to get the streets open and passable again. That Friday, though, was the only day any Farmington city employees received overtime pay to clean up.

Cleaning up

Clearing the streets was one of the immediate priorities Reiten's staff faced right after the tornado. In some neighborhoods, that was no easy task. There were large sections of trees blocking the roads, so city crews were out helping neighbors move those trees and chip some of them down.

Knowing the damage varied from home to home, the city asked residents to haul the brush to the boulevard in front of their homes. Knowing, too, that it would take some longer than others, city cleanup crews did not work the weekend. Reiten said they came back out the following Monday to collect the piled brush.

"We didn't really do anything over the weekend," Reiten said. "We thought they would have time to put everything out, then we hit it right away again on Monday."

Using backhoes and skidsters, city crews went from neighborhood to neighborhood and gradually hauled the brush to the city's maintenance facility. Larger pieces of tree trunks were taken to an off-site burner.

"There were hundreds of truckloads of trees," said Farmington solid waste supervisor Bill Weierke.

The city does not have money available to chip down all of the large trunks left behind, Reiten said. Though the city may try to do some chipping of those larger pieces in the future, Reiten recommends residents talk with their insurance agents to see if that service is covered in their policies, and if it is, that they hire an independent contractor to get the work done.

Additionally, the city set out several dumpsters around the damaged neighborhoods. By the end of last week, Reiten estimated about 20 loads of debris had been collected, and he planned to keep those out for the better part of this week, as well.

"We're changing locations around a little bit with those, so people don't have to walk as far," he said.

The debris came in form of just about anything that wasn't a tree -- deck wood, downed roof tiles, swimming pools and trampolines are just the beginning.

"We've had garage doors and everything dumped in there," Reiten said.

The street sweepers have been through the neighborhoods a couple of times already, and chances are good they'll make a few more passes before the end of this week. That should clear the streets, but Reiten warns residents to still use caution in their yards -- in particular, he recommends caution when walking barefoot due to the glass and nails that could still be in the grass.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
(651) 702-0974
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