COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The cleanup from the May 21 snowstorm in Colorado Springs has advanced from removing debris on the ground to removing broken limbs and branches still attached to trees.
Around the city, it's easy to see trees on public and private property with dead limbs and branches hanging from them. Many people are asking if the tree parts will be just left there until they fall off on their own, or removed by property owners or professionals.
Many homeowners still have damaged trees in their yards and may be unable to afford to have debris removed or are unable to do it themselves.
How much more of this work needs to be done, and how long it will take to finish, depends on who you ask.
Al Wegner, of Timberline Landscaping, said he has work backed up for several weeks with homeowners and businesses.
"The wait isn't as long as it is in other places," he said. "But people need to understand that many trees were damaged by the broken limbs and branches that fell on them. We're not only removing that debris. We're also thinning out the trees to keep them healthy. Still, it can take up to five years for a tree to recover from this kind of damage. And some trees can't be saved. We've had to cut down a lot of them."
Wegner said younger trees, and trees that received regular pruning and other maintenance, fared better than older trees and trees that haven't received regular care.
Meanwhile, Dennis Will, the city forester for Colorado Springs, said he has responded to only 200 of more than 2,500 requests to remove tree debris in public areas.
"We have only three one-man crews and a part-time crew from another department," he said. "It's a slow process. You respond to one location and find there are many other trees in that same block that need care. We're putting our normal duties aside to deal with this situation. We'll be busy with it through the end of the year."
Jeremy Flores, a homeowner, said he'll be hiring a tree professional soon.
"We need to get somebody in here to take care of the big branches -- especially the ones that are broken," he said. "We have kids who play in the back yard, and you just don't want one falling down in the wind."
Will asked that homeowners removing tree debris avoid mixing it with debris in public areas.
"Our responsibility is only the public areas, not debris from private areas," he said. "Thankfully, we're not getting people dumping debris in a public park's parking lot as they were doing immediately after the storm."