ELKHART — A heavy storm in the night of July 11 caused such extensive damage to trees, in addition other property, that the Elkhart Public Buildings & Grounds Maintenance Department is still working to catch up, according to department head Mike Lightner.

“We were working on removing trees from houses for about four days,” said Lightner.

That meant brush pickup had to take a backseat for a while, even when there was more of that to do than normally as well. 

“So it kind of got us behind, because of how many (fallen trees there were) and the size of the trees,” he said.

By the end of this week, the department should be done with the cleanup related to the storm. Lightner’s staff will all be back on their regular routes next week.

This was not the first time a storm has changed the schedule for Buildings & Grounds, though this storm created more severe damage than most, according to Lightner.

“We do storm damage occasionally, but usually it’s not as bad as this one,” he said. “This one was not a normal storm.”

Jeff Lock, one of the people doing the cleanup, said he and his colleagues have been buried with work.

“I’ve been with the city for 12 years, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen after one storm,” said Lock.

Ligthner said he had to pull staff from grounds maintenance and construction to assist the seven people on the forestry staff.

The biggest issues were in a relatively small area of Elkhart, near the St. Joseph River.

“Greenleaf and three or four blocks north, and then Jackson and three or four blocks south were just devastated,” he said.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus

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