Dayton has approved doubling spending on tree and limb removal and disposal after underestimating the amount of tornado-related damage to vegetation across the city.
The Dayton City Commission this week approved amending a contract with Tree Care Inc. to provide the company up to $2 million to remove and permanently dispose of trees, vegetation and woody debris related to the Memorial Day tornadoes.
The city’s original contract was for half that amount, but crews have collected far more green debris than initially anticipated, and more still needs removed.
The city has spent about $2.9 million from its general fund for emergency response, debris removal and other repairs related to the May 27 tornadoes, city documents state. Fifteen tornadoes hit the region that night, including an EF-4 in the northern part of the city.
The city also has spent about $1.2 million from its water utility fund for emergency power generation and other clean-up activities, the city said.
The city expects to be reimbursed about 87.5 percent of its tornado-related cleanup costs by FEMA and its insurance provider, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.
“The vast majority of the cleanup has occurred,” Dickstein said. “Clearly, there’s a great deal of work to do in reinvestment and rehabilitation, which will take several years at least, based on our conversations with other communities that have dealt with this.”
On Wednesday, the city commission approved increasing the city’s contract with Tree Care to chip, haul away and dispose of remaining vegetative debris at its two staging locations.
The city originally projected that Tree Care would need to collect and get rid of about 115,000 cubic yards of green debris, city staff said.
But the company already has helped collect more than 210,000 cubic yards of trees, limbs and other vegetation, staff said, and there is an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 cubic yards remaining of hazardous trees.
Under its contract with the city, Tree Care will remove hazardous trees from city-owned parks and other spaces in the city’s responsibility.
“At the time we did the estimate, there was still a lot of debris that wasn’t present at the (staging) sites in the community,” said Tom Ritchie, Dayton’s deputy director of public works.
There are still downed tree limbs and debris in some parks and public right-of-ways, such as the green spaces in roadways, Ritchie said, and the city will continue to have ongoing costs for cleanup until all of that has been removed.
Additionally, multiple city facilities were damaged by the storm, and so far, only temporary repairs have been made, officials said.
The city in September approved spending nearly $200,000 to hire a consultant to assess about 40 city-owned buildings and properties to determine if they were damaged by the weather event.
Dickstein said the assessment revealed additional damage at the water plant and other locations.
Originally, the city believed about eight facilities were damaged. The assessment found that about a dozen properties sustained an estimated $300,000 in damage, staff said.
The city expects to be reimbursed 75 percent of eligible costs from FEMA after insurance proceeds, city officials said.
Reimbursement will take place after the city completes work on unfinished projects and grants are encumbered by the federal government, officials said.
FEMA set Dec. 18, 2020, as the deadline for project completion, but extensions may be granted for certain activities.