Oklahoma neighborhood still dealing with ice storm debris months later

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RICHLAND, Okla. - It’s spring.

Many trees are blooming and turning green.

But, for one Oklahoma community, it's hard to welcome spring when all around them are the signs of those ice storms from last fall.

Piles of debris are still lining the streets in the community of Richland, an area in Canadian County, north of Yukon and south of Piedmont.

The neighborhood trees, like many other areas in the county, were heavily damaged by ice storms in November and December 2015.

Now, months later, the piles of tree limbs residents worked to clean up are still there.

“You mow around it. You get around it. Before it got too hot and dry, we burned some of it,” said Ty Mallard, a resident in Richland.

“There's been nobody out here to pick the debris up,” said Marvin Russell, another resident.

The damage to the trees is still visible through the spring blooms.

In fact, those blooms are even appearing in the piles of debris.

“We understand they're probably feeling frustrated right now,” said Commissioner Marc Hader with Canadian County’s District 1.

Hader said cleanup crews haven't forgotten about Richland.

“Essentially, they've been working non-stop for weeks now," Hader said. "It just goes to show the size and scope of what we're dealing with.”

While some residents had hoped to see the piles gone by Easter, Hader said it will likely be another two weeks before crews get to the area.

He said, if residents could get the debris to the main road outside of the neighborhood, it would make pickup easier and faster, but residents said that's not likely to happen.

“A lot of people just moved it to the curb, which was a big effort in itself," Mallard said. "Going all the way to the main road would be really hard.”

While residents wait, they try to not give up hope their curb lines will soon be cleared.

“It’s a mess," Mallard said. "They said they're going to clean it up, so hopefully they'll get out and get it taken care of.”

Hader said District 2 and 3 in Canadian County did hire an outside company to help with cleanup in their districts.

There was some work done in District 1, too.

However, the cost of the contract work added up quickly and was more than the county felt like they could afford.

They decided to let their county crews complete the work.

They are in the process of purchasing surplus equipment from other areas that will make this process faster in the future, should there be another ice storm.

The county decided it was necessary to not overspend on the cleanup because they were already feeling strapped for cash after flooding in the spring of 2015 washed out roads, causing work they had not planned for.

While the area was approved for a disaster declaration, Hader said it takes a while to get that money back, and they wanted to make sure the county had enough money on hand for any other road or bridge projects that came up.

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