Rapid City residents who need help removing broken limbs and uprooted trees will likely have to wait weeks before the city can help pick up their debris, the City Council learned at an emergency meeting Wednesday.
"I've come to the conclusion that we probably do not have the option other than to do some curbside cleanup," Public Works Director Terry Wolterstorff informed council members. "If you don't want to see branches sitting in front of your house, I suggest you get it out to the drop-off sites. If you don't have the means, please be patient. It will take some time to get through that."
The public works director said the city first needs to establish bidding and contracting processes for the work, and that the city has to be sure to follow specific guidelines in order to qualify for eventual Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement.
In the meantime, he said, South Dakota Division of Wildland fire crews have been mobilized to remove dangling branches in the city. Wolterstorff urged residents not to place branches in alleyways and to stack limbs away from fire hydrants and mailboxes.
He said the city also is looking for commercial grinders and haulers to tackle the debris buildup at the city's three drop-off sites.
Wolterstorff said those drop-off sites will be open seven days a week for at least the next month. The sites are at Fitzgerald Stadium off Sheridan Lake Road, at the fairgrounds and at the civic center.
Residents can call 211 to coordinate volunteer services for debris removal as well as the city information line at 394-9300.
The city council did take some action to address problems in the wake of the weekend blizzard.
If emergency measures are approved, the city will be able to award contracts of more than than $25,000 for storm remediation without council approval. This would sidestep the bidding process to make those funds available as soon as possible and allow the shuffling of money within departmental budgets to help cover the costs.
City Attorney Joel Landeen said there's ample money in the city's budget to handle the initial costs. He said, however, additional money may be needed. No cap has been placed on the emergency contracts, but the council will later review them, he said.
"I would just reiterate that anything that we can do through the normal process that we have time to do, we will do it through the normal process. This would only be for things where it's determined that there was not time to go through the normal process," Landeen said.
With an inch and a half of rain expected over the weekend and continued snow melt, Wolterstorff also warned of the potential for flooding.
Dustin Willett, director of Pennington County Emergency Management, said the biggest concern for the county is removal of livestock carcasses.
He said carcasses on private land are the producers' responsibility and that carcasses in rights of way will be taken care of by the county.
"A tree branch is going to be a tree branch three weeks from now," Willett said. "A bloated animal carcass is going to be a source of disease and contamination in just a few days. So there's a huge time constraint on dealing with the number of livestock carcasses on the public right of way."