By Justin Juozapavicius
The Associated Press
TULSA — It could take a month or longer to remove all the debris left after last week’s violent derecho, Tulsa officials estimated Monday, the first day of the massive citywide cleanup effort.
“The damage is widespread throughout the city,” said city spokeswoman Lara Weber. “In midtown, there is significant debris, not just limbs but whole trees that will need to be removed.
“It’s going to take a while,” Weber said Monday.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday’s storms packed up to 80 mph winds and toppled power lines and decades-old trees, leaving more than 100,000 homes and businesses in the area without electricity at one point — some for several days.
Meteorologists later classified the storm system as a rare derecho because of the wind damage it caused throughout the city.
Some residents last week compared the scope of the widespread damage and outages to a December 2007 ice storm that wreaked havoc on the northeastern part of Oklahoma.
Beginning on the outskirts of the 200-square-mile city and with a circuit of 3,000 lane miles of streets to travel, crews started picking up downed limbs and other green waste Monday, with the plan to work their way into the heart of the city, where there was the most damage.
The city said last week that crews would make only one pass to pick up the debris and would not haul away other trash, such as shingles or wood, mixed in with the piles.
Residents must leave tree debris curbside — ideally in bundles of 4 feet or smaller — but they can also take debris to the city’s processing site north of town.
Lloyd Wright, press secretary to Mayor Dewey Bartlett, asked residents for their patience Monday as the city began the cleanup.
“We have no estimate on when we are going to be done,” Wright said. “It’s going to take us at least several weeks. We have thousands of lane miles, from residential streets to arterials.”