During the days that followed the June 29 storm, the City of Roanoke says they made extensive efforts to address the resulting damage and to aid residents affected by the unusual “Dorecho” event.
Most visible to residents has been the work done by the Solid Waste Management Division crews, who have been working 14-hour days to clear brush and debris from city neighborhoods. As of July 5, 86 workers had spent 4,214 hours collectively, picking up 447 tons of brush from the storm – enough to cover a football field nearly four feet deep. Historically, crews have collected a total of 300 tons of brush from the entire city for the month of July. It is estimated that crews will collect a total of 1,500 tons (3 million pounds) of brush by Friday July 13th. Work is not expected to be completed until July 30.
Other responses to the storm provided by city workers include the following:
• In the first 12 hours after the storm, 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., public safety telecommunicators in the E-911 Center processed 1,603 calls, sometimes handling from 200 to 300 calls per hour. A total of 972 calls were entered into the dispatch system, and staff from Police and Fire-EMS assisted in directing responses to the calls; Police and Fire-EMS staff served as first responders to emergencies caused by the storm.
• Parks and Recreation crews responded to 217 emergency calls about city trees that were downed, and worked with Public Works crews to cut up trees and haul away debris.
• Public Works sign crews deployed more than 300 traffic barricades and traffic barrels to hazardous locations involving downed wires, closed streets, intersections with inoperable traffic lights, etc.
• Staff worked with Roanoke County and the American Red Cross to establish and open a cooling center/shelter.
• Operations at the Police Academy were suspended, and cadets were assigned to assist officers in directing traffic at intersections; At one point 50 out of 158 signalized intersections were without power.
• Additional police officers were assigned to patrol areas of the city that were without power.
• As power was restored, traffic signal technicians needed to reset signal operations at each intersection. Traffic signals at several intersections also required repairs to damaged components.
• Staff from Fire-EMS and the Office of Communications shared information with the public regarding safety, the city’s cooling center, and updates on brush pickup.
In a news release the city stressed that they wished to, “thank employees for their ongoing dedication to serving citizens during this unprecedented storm situation.” The city also said that efforts to work with Roanoke County and the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority were crucial to the progress made in the city’s response to collecting the debris resulting from the storm. Also, the city’s partnership with the American Red Cross and Roanoke County was essential in providing shelter to those who lost power because of the storm.