Long Road Ahead For Roanoke Storm Cleanup - WSET.com - ABC13

Long Road Ahead For Roanoke Storm Cleanup


Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: Levi Washburn

Roanoke, VA - In Roanoke, crews have been working tirelessly to bring that city back to speed. More than 12,000 city residents are still without power though. Not to mention the city is riddled with streets full of downed power lines and debris.

City officials say they've only begun to scrape the surface on collection of storm debris. For many of the city's crews, everyday has been a constant up-hill battle, fighting extreme heat and a never ending supply of storm damage.

"It's extremely hot. You're standing on the back of these trucks with the exhaust, and you just double the heat intensity. Drink enough water, and you're still hot," said Couqueze Schrader, a public works employee who collects debris.

For 31 Roanoke Public Works Crews; daily, 12-hour shifts have become the norm. "From like 7 o'clock in the morning till about noon, it's not so bad. When the heat hits, then you get exhausted, and then all you want to do is quit, and you know you can't," said Schrader.

More than 80 workers spend their days picking up pile after pile of storm damage. Knowing full well the work they're doing, is barely making a dent.

"We've got three quarters of the city left. 'Is that daunting?' Yes, yes, very daunting," said Schrader.

"We've actually just touched the surface of this storm of the century as I'm calling it," said Roanoke Solid Waste Manager, Skip Decker.

Nearly a week's worth of storm cleanup has left only one of the city's four quadrants completely clear. Officials estimate the entire clean up could last months.

"We had a pile yesterday that we picked up that was 70 feet long in front of one resident's home. Now you times that by 40,000 customers that you have, we have an ultimate task out there to clean up," said Decker.

Inside the city's 24 hour make-shift shelter in the civic center, the scene is a bit quieter. What once was the refuge for more than 300 Roanoke residents, now feeds, and sleeps, just 40, many of whom are approaching an entire week without electricity.

"It's refreshing for a change. I've been in the air conditioning at work, thankfully we have power. But my wife has been home with all day with the kids," said Jeremiah Finch, who is still without power. "We don't have power," said his son. "Yea we don't have power, that's right," replied Finch.

That shelter at the civic center will be closing Friday morning at 10 a.m. Appalachian Power is hoping all customers in Roanoke will be back with power by Saturday.

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