Christmas trees not allowed to be picked up along with ice storm debris

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OKLAHOMA - It’s been over a month since the November ice storm, and crews are still out picking up damaged trees in Oklahoma City.

Wednesday, NewsChannel 4 learned there is something that could be slowing down the process, and that is Christmas trees and other waste mixed in with the limbs.

If clean-up crews have trouble moving waste to the side, then they have the right to leave your pile of branches on the curb.

That is something Heather Lathrop does not like to hear.

"It just looks horrible sitting there, our whole street," Lathrop said. "What's really irritating is when I go driving and I feel like my car's going to get scratched by these little branches hanging off the side."

Oklahoma City said tree removal workers are moving as quick as they can.

"It's pretty go go go," said Kenny Beck, with Kansas City Tree Care.

Wednesday, it was non-stop for the crew out of Kansas.

They said they started around 6 a.m. and did not stop picking up limbs and taking them to a landfill until around 5:30 at night.

One thing that has been tying them up is moving “junk” from the ice storm debris.

"Lots of trash, a TV, chairs, couches, furniture," Beck said. "Everybody keeps putting this stuff in there and then asking why we're not taking it. We can't. They told us to drive right by it.”

Not picking up household items is understandable, but NewsChannel 4 asked why not Christmas trees?

Debbie Ragan, with the Oklahoma City Utilities Department, explained why.

"The special collection is for storm-related damage, and the Christmas tree is clearly not that," Ragan said. "Collecting the Christmas tree could jeopardize any FEMA reimbursement that we could get."

The city said it expects to start the second phase of the clean-up in February.

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