Dexter Township Board approves $200,000 for tornado clean-up effort
While just up North Territorial Road in Dexter Township, golfers were spending Sunday enjoying a round of golf, on Dexter-Pinckney Road and in the Carriage Hills neighborhood, hundreds of people were still outside cleaning up the aftermath of an EF-3 tornado that demolished hundreds of huge trees, scattering them like bowling pins.
Huge trees were felled, ripping their roots to the surface and pointing in every direction. The sounds of chainsaws permeated the usually quiet area along Dexter-Pinckney Road, while residents worked feverishly to undo the wrath that sliced through the area Thursday evening.
Limbs and branches of every size littered lawns and the road remains closed until Thursday.
Lisa Allmendinger | AnnArbor.com
“This money is for the big stuff, the unsafe stuff, to get it out of there,” said township Supervisor Pat Kelly.
Although the money would be used in specific sections of the township, Trustee Steve Feinman said, “It’s for the public good. We’re here for the health, safety and welfare of residents.”
About 15 residents attended the meeting, several expressed concerns about the trees on their property and current road conditions in the area, which they said were already in bad shape.
They said the already bad roads would be further damaged by the heavy equipment hauled in by Harry Fox, an outside contractor, which is scheduled to come into the area for the clean-up efforts that are expected to last well into this week.
When all the trees are cleared, “There will be a veritable mountain of wood chips,” said Jim Harmon, director of operations for the road commission. “Although Pat (Kelly) offered the township parking lot I told her it could literally fill the parking lot four times and be 40-feet tall.”
As a primary road, Dexter-Pinckney Road is the primary focus of the Road Commission’s current efforts.
“Hopefully, by the end of the week, we’ll be closer to normalcy.”
Loren Yates, chief of the Dexter Area Fire Department, who served as incident commander, said the fire department’s tornado emergency response efforts were almost done, and they’d be returning to a normal shift schedule.
“I want to thank the spouses of the firefighters. It’s pretty traumatic for the guys as it is. Take Mike Grissom, for example. He sees the tornado going toward his home, and he’s heading out to help others. It’s part of the job, and they do it well, but it’s still a difficult situation,” Yates said.
“The first responders who went door to door and with all the things they do, it’s a miracle what they do,” Kelly said, adding that the Washtenaw County Road Commission, which cleared a path through the trees for emergency vehicles, the Michigan State Police, and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, “were all amazing.”
Checkpoints, which have been in place in key intersections in both the Village of Dexter and Dexter township since the tornado blasted through the area, may remain longer in certain areas.
Lisa Allmendinger | AnnArbor.com
In addition, there have been numerous reports of "carpet baggers" coming into the area looking for work.
Officials said that the Departments of Public Works from Chelsea, Manchester, Saline and even Tecumseh had offered assistance in the clean-up efforts. “I want to give a shout out to the Chelsea DPW,” Kelly said. “There were seven people here with heavy equipment for two nights.”
Electricity was restored to most residents in the area by about 6 p.m. Saturday.
“I don’t know how you got the power back on that fast,” Kelly told Paul Ganz, a DTE representative who lives in Carriage Hills and as one of the officials who attended the meeting.
But there is still a lot of work to be done, and crews from ATT are waiting for the Washtenaw County Road Commission and an independent contractor that will be brought into the area to finish the tree removal. Several residents expressed their anger with the situation. One resident said, “Our homes have 20-30 percent less value than they did two days ago.”
He asked if township officials would reassess their properties and reduce their taxes. Several residents also expressed anger about the number of trees they’d lost, asking if there was township money available to replace them.
Kelly said that while she was sympathetic to their concerns, “We need to prioritize. We need to get the trees cleared, the brush cleared, the roads open and get the kids back to school.” Kelly said.
In other updates:
Mary Marshall, superintendent of Dexter Community Schools, said they are setting up a lost and found area to collect and distribute items recovered from the storm damaged areas. It will be located in a portable classroom at Creekside Intermediate School and open from 3-7 p.m. today and from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. during the week.
Dexter Community Schools will be open Monday, and school officials were working on staging areas for student pick-ups. There will also be counselors from both Saline and Chelsea schools available for students. “Kids need to be able to tell their stories,” Marshall said.
Assessments of the affected areas are being completed by county emergency operations officials for possible submission to the state or federal government for “emergency disaster funding.” State Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, said there is only a total of $200,000 available for the entire state in disaster funding.
“If it’s privately insured, it doesn’t count,” he said, and since 9-11, there are only specific things that are covered.
The township has opened its meeting room, which a WiFi connection, to township residents.
The monthly Dexter Township Board meeting has been changed from Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to Thursday night.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.
I would like to say a huge Thank you to everyone in the neighborhood and community for all the help and support. Everyone was out lending a hand, checking on neighbors picking up debris, giving support after this disaster. Thank you to the emergency responders, WCSD, Dexter Fire Dept, Village of Dexter, Mi State Police and all the disaster clean up crews. Just amazing how everyone came together cleaning up, we have a long way to go but it sure makes it easier seeing the effort given by Everyone!
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.
Your hero Joe Biden gave $369 dollars to charity in 2007 and many democrats are as famously cheap as Republicans are generous. What about this disaster has you thanking God for taxes? While government is paying for police/fire overtime and help with dumpsters, almost all of the clean up and restoration is paid for by insurance companies / those paying their home owners premiums every month. Many of the little things like clean up was done by volunteers and home owners themselves. NOBODY stood around waiting for FEMA or THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to come save them then cry to reporters that the President failed. While there is general agreement that obama is the worst president in a century and democrats blamed Bush for THE WEATHER, nobody with a clue thinks this is obama's fault.
Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.
Whether we're talking about New Orleans or Dexter, FEMA cannot handle disasters and their aftermaths as well as people who live in and therefore know those areas. If FEMA is called in, they have to get to know an area awfully fast in order to prevent others from taking selfish advantage of the disaster. Not so with local law enforcement personnel.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.
Thank God for taxes! Actually, why are we letting tax dollars go to a conservative town like Dexter? I thought Republicans were anti-tax? What happened to self-sufficiency? Go out there and pull your self up by your bootstraps!
Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.
Apparently, you understand pro-tax to mean pro-dependent on government. More of us would be free to pull ourselves up if government didn't put regulations on businesses that serve only their cronies, not the little guy. Taxes were never meant to empower politicians'selfish control of common citizens.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.
Why make this, and everything else political?
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.
"But there is still a lot of work to be done, and crews from ATT are waiting for the Washtenaw County Road Commission and an independent contractor that will be brought into the area to finish the tree removal. Several residents expressed their anger with the situation. One resident said, "Our homes have 20-30 percent less value than they did two days ago." He asked if township officials would reassess their properties and reduce their taxes. Several residents also expressed anger about the number of trees they'd lost, asking if there was township money available to replace them." Just Wow! These folks have neighbors in the village that lost everything, yet these township folks are literally whining about property values and looking for a handout or tax reassessments for trees! Next time check with your insurance company about coverage for trees.
Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.
I guess they're already looking ahead to summer, when they won't have the shade they enjoyed during previous summers. No mention is made about the kinds of trees they lost. Not too long ago, I read that catalpa trees grow fast, and because of their large, heart-shaped leaves, they provide a lot of shade.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.
I am stunned by the comments to this article. The attacks are unbelievable. You are taking out-takes from an article and making them the focus. I am sure there were more conversations at that meeting than just replacing trees. You people need to get some perspective! I work in Dexter and my children go to Dexter Schools. The way this community has banded together is amazing. I would like to see how some of these commentors would fair going through the same situation.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.
Maybe we needed better reporting.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.
@keepitbalanced - Then maybe you need to take the issue up with the writer of this article instead of the people leaving comments. Clearly I'm not the only one getting this impression out of this article. We can only go by what we are reading and I'm clearly reading about folks who've lost trees that are angry about property values showing up at an emergency meeting worried about how they will be compensated, while much less fortunate neighbors don't have homes anymore.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.
djacks24 - How could I be disgusted with a comment without having been at the actual meeting to hear the context of the discussion. The author used the word "anger." I would say that is rather subjective. This article doesn't state any of the conversation that lead up to the comment. What I am disgusted about is how people take pot-shots and pass judgment about how other people react to losing their homes or property.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.
You don't find it a little outrageous that it has barely been a few days since the tornado, there are still roads closed, massive cleanups still not even being close to being finished, and there are residents that are (according to the article) expressing anger (not concern or even mild disappointment, but ANGER) about their property values wanting something done? I could see if it were more about safety concerns, but the article clearly states anger over property values, and you are not just a little bit disgusted?
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.
Yes there may have been more that was talked about but we can only comment of what was in the article.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.
This is the Township, not to be confused with the Village, which was also hit hard. It is also a scientific fact that some people are irrational and demanding every day of their lives and suffering tornado property damage does not transform them into friendly, reasonable people. Sometimes things happen and while most is paid by insurance, some it not - that's life. As others have said, the real story here is not the tornado, it's these amazing communities and how everyone has come together to help the victims. I also disagree with one AA dot com piece with a quote from a fundraiser about this was a rare disaster where everyone was "lucky" enough to have insurance. I disagree - it's call responsibility and when home owners do their part, much of the economic trauma associated with such a disaster is taken care of. ...that is not luck, it's taking responsibly for your property and family.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.
Can anyone tell me why they are taking up a collection for people effected by the tornado. If my house was hit by a tornando my insurance would pick up the tab for a hotel. They would also give my $1000 per person for clothes. Is it for food? I would expect most people would have a couple hundred dollars in their saving to buy food until insurance reimburses them for the food lost. I don't get?
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.
Instead of chipping the trees, they could offer up firewood to county residents. If the word got out I bet the wood would disappear in a couple of weeks.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.
I've seen people pulling trailers with logs on them in the area. Some folks must be availing themselves of the downed trees.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.
I also thought the same thing regarding the township paying for tree replacement. Huh?? Yes, people are angry. It is part of the grief process associated with a tragedy of this proportion. If it was my yard that was affected, I would be very sad, yet grateful to be alive and uninjured. But clearly the township is not responsible for trees on private property. That's what insurance is for. As to the comment regarding property values, I guess I need to plant a few more trees if it's going to raise my property value by 20-30%.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.
How unbelievably ungracious and self-centered to ask a city or township for help with trees on private property. Homeowners need to know what their insurance policy covers. Some policies allow riders that provide coverage for trees. Some of the news footage has been disturbing, showing volunteers described as heroic using chain saws in unsafe manners, without safety glasses, and with small children playing nearby. Another disturbing story, replayed several times, shows a woman describing how she drove through the storm, even though wind spun her vehicle completely around, so she could get home to her teenage daughter. The woman was described as heroic, but what she did was incredibly reckless. She's lucky to be alive.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 7:12 a.m.
This is just disgusting. No one was killed but some of the residents of Dexter want to complain about work trucks parked on the streets. Right away they have their hands out for money for new trees. Why is it the township's responsibility to buy them trees? Go buy your own trees! They just escaped with their lives and immediately they want lower property taxes. Are they angry at Dexter? Do they think the township officials have powers to stop tornadoes? How pathetic!
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.
Are they talking about trees in the Right of Way, usually in the lawn extensions on the raod side of the sidewalk? Those could be Twp/City "owned".
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.
PLEASE note that these comments are from TOWNSHIP residents where the trees were, not the VILLAGE where the homes were destroyed.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 3:56 a.m.
"I don't know how you got the power back on that fast," Kelly told Paul Ganz, a DTE representative who lives in Carriage Hills and as one of the officials who attended the meeting. I wonder if the power was restored that quickly BECAUSE it was his neighborhood that didnt have power?? Another comment I cant help but to notice is "residents also expressed anger about the number of trees they'd lost, asking if there was township money available to replace them". Really??? Ya, it sucks so many trees were lost (believe me, I know, I spent the weekend cutting them up and dragging them to the street!) Where or how does that make it the townships responsibility to replace them all? Not a very intelligent question in my opinion!
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.
Becca Yea go to home depot and buy a 30 foot blue spruce! Every house that was damaged or destroyed will be as good or better than new within a year. Lets see how big that 4 ft spruce from home depot is in years. The township bears no responsibility here and neither does the insurance co. Unless you have them covered in you policy. BUT to say go to home depot is ridiculous!
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 7:04 a.m.
Oh thank you! I can't believe someone wold be worried about Some trees! Go to home depot and buy a few new ones! Be thankful ur house was not destroyed, no one in ur family was injured or killed!!! People just make me laugh when they stress overhe little crap!
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 3:53 a.m.
I agree with jcj that the recovery effort has been remarkable. I have to say though, that people upset over losing trees need to stop and think how their neighbor's who lost part or all of their house may feel. All of a sudden a tree isn't very important.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.
Coverage varies from carrier to carrier. My experience is that the homeowner may have a small amount due for "landscaping damage", generally about $1,000. I found out that if I wanted my wooded land covered I would need to insure EACH tree!
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.
A2newbie Every person I talked to WAS grateful their loss was not as bad as it could have been. My point was more that homeowners usually don't realize their trees probably are not covered. And if you pay for insurance you can have new shingles on in a few days. Does not happen as quick with a tree.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 10:50 a.m.
I agree with A2newbie. Homeowners need to know what their policies cover. Some of my neighbors have riders that insure their trees. To be honest, I don't know whether my policy covers trees. I will check!
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.
"Assessments of the affected areas are being completed by county emergency operations officials for possible submission to the state or federal government for "emergency disaster funding." State Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, said there is only a total of $200,000 available for the entire state in disaster funding." Is he serious? This amount is nothing. and....where is the golf course where..."While just up North Territorial Road in Dexter Township, golfers were spending Sunday enjoying a round of golf, ..."?
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.
That would be "over" on N. Territorial, wouldn't it?
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 3:50 a.m.
..."While just up North Territorial Road in Dexter Township, golfers were spending Sunday enjoying a round of golf, ..."? If it's Up North Territiorial, must be Inverness.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.
The link from the main page to this story is broken. Fails: http://www.annarbor.com/news/chelsea/dexter-township-board-approves-200000-for-tornado-clean-up-effort/ Works: http://www.annarbor.com/news/dexter/dexter-township-board-approves-200000-for-tornado-clean-up-effort/
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.
Fixed now. Feel free to delete the comment.
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.
Several residents expressed their anger with the situation. One resident said, "Our homes have 20-30 percent less value than they did two days ago." I am not sure who they are angry at. Every aspect of the recovery effort as far as I saw was remarkable. While it is hard to have your home destroyed or damaged. In most cases insurance will cover it. Not many will have any coverage on the trees they lost. I spent most of the day Friday helping friends secure their home. The work done by everyone since the storm has been phenomenal!