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Dealing With Downed Trees After Monday's Storm? Here's What You Need To Know About Cleanup

There are downed trees everywhere after Monday's storm.
Kate Payne
/
IPR
Children play on some of the downed trees near Redmond Park in Cedar Rapids.

All the freshly fallen trees are green wood at this point. That means that the wood will be very smokey when it burns, because it still contains a lot of moisture. Split it, and stack it. Don't burn it.

High-speed winds can topple trees, power lines, and fences, littering the area with debris. MidAmerican Energy warns people to avoid downed power lines in case they are still energized.

When clearing away debris, be aware of what might be buried in the pile. Wear gloves and watch out for pieces of housing, particularly glass, sharp metals, and, for older homes, items containing asbestos.

For more information about asbestos and how to protect yourself, read the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's guide.

If you or your neighborhood have a large amount of downed trees or tree limbs, your city may provide assistance in removing the debris. Check your city's website or Facebook page for the latest on whether they're coordinating debris pick-up.

The Iowa DNR has provided some guidance and is working with communities across the state.

What do I do with all this wood?

Charity Nebbe talked with Mark Vitosh, a DNR forester, about best practices for tree removal and clean-up. Listen to the podcast of that conversation here.

In short: split it, and stack it. Don't burn it. All the freshly fallen trees that have fallen due to the storm are green wood at this point. That means that the wood will be very smokey when it burns because it still contains a lot of moisture. We are still living through a pandemic caused by a respiratory virus, and poor air quality will make a lot of people's circumstances worse.

According to Vitosh, wood should sit for six months to a year to dry before burning, and you should stack it away from the house to prevent insect issues.

Find information from Iowa State University Extension about managing storm damaged trees here.