July 22, 2010


This tree northeast of the Insectary was blown over in high winds early Sunday morning. Photo by Bob Elbert. More storm damage images.

Tree losses from storm are adding up

by Anne Krapfl

Campus crews -- aided by a few good Samaritans -- are tackling the behemoth task of removing debris and entire trees from campus following Sunday's early morning storm.

Around campus, 35 to 40 trees were either uprooted or so severely damaged by winds in the vicinity of 70 mph that they will be removed, said Bob Currie, director of facilities services in facilities planning and management. Another 100 trees sustained damage and need to be trimmed, but can be saved, he said.

"Central campus fared pretty well, compared to damage elsewhere in the city," he noted. He said it may take grounds crews until September to get lower-priority trimming completed.

A closer look

See more of university photographer Bob Elbert's images of storm damage.

Veenker Memorial Golf Course on the north side of campus also was hit hard by the storm, especially holes along Squaw Creek, said clubhouse manager Tess Balsley. About 100 trees were damaged, 50 of which are a total loss, she said. The course was closed Sunday and Monday due to blocked fairways, but reopened Tuesday morning. The Summer Iowa Games golf competition scheduled for July 18 was rescheduled for Aug. 1.

Lot of mulch

Currie said much of the debris is being converted to wood chips or mulch for use on campus. Limbs and trunks too large to be chipped will be moved to the university's free wood area east of Haber Road and south of the large coal pile for free pickup by the public.

Balsley said they're still investigating options for disposing of the huge piles of debris at the golf course. The first priority was cleaning up fairways and greens and getting the course in playable shape. For now, the debris is being piled in an overflow parking area, she said.

Other damage

Currie said FPM hasn't heard any reports of damaged vehicles due to the storm. Four buildings -- Stephens Auditorium, Forker and General Services buildings and the plant pathology greenhouses north of General Services -- sustained broken windows, he said. The corrugated metal roof of a storage building north of the Genetics Laboratory was peeled back several inches. University marketing director Carole Custer reported that 13 banners on University Boulevard light poles were missing or destroyed.

Two ISU horses had to be euthanized due to injuries received when a three-sided steel shelter in the Haber Road horse pasture was blown over, intact. Several other foals and a mare are receiving care for lacerations.

Generous volunteers

Balsley said she appealed to Veenker members for help Sunday morning, and over two days about 40 volunteers -- including nongolfing Ames residents awed by the damage they saw -- helped clear fairways. A group of eight teenagers from Story City showed up Monday and cleared one hole by themselves, she said.

Balsley said the heavy rain and concern about damaging the turf initially prevented golf course staff from driving maintenance vehicles onto fairways. Volunteers carried or dragged sticks and tree limbs to the fairway edges, where staff could load the debris onto trucks.

"The damage out here is pretty overwhelming, but it was heartwarming to see people, especially those with no connection to Veenker, show up to help us," Balsley said.

The cost of cleanup

Damage to trees or the cost of debris removal is not included in the university's catastrophic property insurance coverage, said interim director of risk management Deb Sunstrom. Any building damage, including replacement expenses, should be reported to her office to help determine if losses exceed the university's deductible.