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Storm cleanup going slow for some Elcho residents
ELCHO - Devastating storms hit the Elcho community back in July. Many trees are still down across the region and some people worry the cleanup process isn't going fast enough.

Life may be returning to normal for some people. Others wonder if the forest debris will ever be hauled away.

"The area was out of electricity for six days," said 38-year seasonal resident Ben Merry. "All my friends and family members and so forth that are up there told me, um, they recommended me that I not come up."

The damage left by severe thunderstorms that hit on July 19 shocked residents like Ben Merry and his wife.

"My wife said to me, she said it looks like a war zone," said Merry. "She said, it's just, it's unbelievable. Our reference points were gone."

Town Chairman Gary Johnson says that they're working hard to clean things up.

"It's a slow process, we're using volunteers and some paid people on weekends," said Johnson. "We're looking to hire two more people for the town crew to help speed things up."

The challenge revolves around everyone's schedule.

"Most everybody that's working on the weekends now has a full time job," said Johnson. "So, their time that they're putting in is all extra."

Despite that effort, debris remaining on the side of the roads has many residents concerned.

"The longer these piles lay, they're gonna be like a tinder box," said Merry. "Going to dry out and be more flammable. I for one and all of my neighbors are very concerned."

Those concerns could take years to clear up.

"The brush that we're taking, we're not legally obligated to take, but we're doing that to help the people," said Johnson. "It could take as much as two years to get that done. It's not going to happen overnight."

People in Elcho with dump passes can take tree debris to the transfer station Enterprise Lake Road. Johnson says it could take up to two years or more to get all the debris cleaned up.

Story By: Devin Biggs

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