City of Norman faces clean-up challenges after December ice storm

Three weeks after an ice storm littered city streets with fallen branches and debris, there are signs of progress in the City of Norman.

"It was kind of crazy waking up this morning," said Samm Wechsler, a Norman resident.

Wechsler woke up to the sound of chainsaws as clean up crews cleared out dead branches about to fall from trees in her yard. Not always pleasant to have chainsaws serve as an alarm clock, but for many Norman residents affected by the ice storm on December 20, 2013, it's a welcome relief.

"I was just kind of wondering, when is it going to be picked up," said Cody Strong, another Norman resident, who lives with Wechsler.

Wechsler and Strong's yard will soon be cleared out, but a few blocks from their home, large piles of debris still line up along curbs for city crews to pick up.

"I feel they're pretty overwhelmed because there's trees down everywhere," said Strong.

Shawn O'Leary, Norman's Director of Public Works says it's been a difficult process cleaning up after the storm.

"We think this will cost us about $600,000," said O'Leary.

As crews haul branches from yards across the city, officials say the ice storm is one of the most expensive natural disasters they've dealt with in the last decade.

"We think it's just because it covers the entire city," explained O'Leary, "and we have a very large city, almost 200 square miles."

Clearing out large, dead branches is the City of Norman's first priority, but starting Monday-- the city will begin it's second round of pick-up to clear out smaller pieces of debris.

"Please bear with us," said O'Leary, "we'll get there, it's only been three weeks since the event."

It's not easy to look at the mess in their yards, but Norman residents are doing their best to be patient.

"There's a lot of mess," said Wechsler, "but I can definitely tell the city is doing a good job to clean it up."

Anyone in Norman with questions or damage after the ice storm should contact the Public Works Department at 366-5452.