Just how many trees have been knocked down in Fort Wayne? Possibly thousands.
Getting a clear assessment of the extent of damage from Friday and Saturday's storms is likely to take through Monday, city officials said Saturday afternoon. How long it will take to clear the many downed trees and reopen all the blocked city streets will depend on the magnitude of the damage.
City spokesman Frank Suarez said that in the three hours after the Friday afternoon storm hit, the city's 311 call center received about 3,000 calls reporting trees down. About another 3,000 reports of trees down were phoned to 911, he said.
However, it isn't clear how much damage all those reports represent. What some people report as downed trees may be large fallen branches, Suarez suggested. Through Monday, city employees will comb the city to see how big a challenge lies ahead.
Another serious effect of the storm is the nearly 80 traffic signals that aren't working. Some of these will be back in action as soon as electricity is restored to them. Others have been physically damaged in the storms and will require repair, Suarez said.
Until the city's traffic flow is running smoothly again, the city advises drivers approaching intersections where the traffic signals do not work is to treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York said that drivers are, in general, showing the patience necessary to treat a dead traffic light as a four-way stop, Suarez said. There have been no serious injuries in either the storms or their aftermath, according to police.
City residents doing their own clean-ups will have a wider window of time to haul the debris from trees. The city's Biosolids Facility, 6210 Lake Ave., will extend hours of operation until 9 p.m. Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. To assist residents with tree and brush clean up, fees at the Biosolids Facility are being adjusted to $1 per residential load, Saturday and Sunday.
Suarez suggested that residents who are cleaning up storm damage on their property should take photos of fallen trees. Not only might that proof help them with their own insurance claims, but it could bolster the city's case for disaster relief, too, he said.
Residents should stay away from all downed power lines.
To report sparking power lines, or trees or light poles that have fallen and are blocking streets this weekend, residents should call 911.
To report trees from the park strip that have fallen and are partially blocking a sidewalk or street, residents should call 311 and leave a message.
Hoosiers who sustained damage caused by severe weather beginning Friday, June 29, 2012 can report damage online at https://myoracle.in.gov/hs/damage.
A link to the form is also available on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) website at www.in.gov/dhs. In the middle of the page under "Topics of the Day," click on "Report Damage From Severe Weather June 29, 2012."