Felled tree inventory taken at park

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Adam Winder, Chad Eckert, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and Dave Myers, from left, take a tour of Brandon Park in Williamsport to discuss the downed trees on Friday afternoon. Winder, Myers and Eckert are with the city’s Streets and Parks Department.

Roughly 15 trees were felled during Monday’s squall and during a tour Friday, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said the loss is historic.

The high winds, estimated at gusts of 71 mph and over, knocked over trees and snapped large branches of the trees in half.

Some of the trees, especially the oaks, were estimated to be in the ground for more than a century — maybe even 150 years old, according to Chad Eckert, city forester.

Campana said that as the replacement process occurs before next Arbor Day that perhaps those who want to have a tree planted in memory of a loved one could send a $200 donation to the Shade Tree Commission at the Public Works building, 1550 W. Third St.

“We’re looking at 15 individuals or families to contribute,” Campana said.

The park’s many pathways are open, but officials caution getting near the trees which have sharp, projecting pieces that could result in injuries.

The ground has been soaked by a shower that began Thursday night and continued on and off Friday.

Throughout the city, the progress of the cleanup continues. Streets and Parks Department employees have cleared the main arteries of the city from tree debris, said Dave Myers, of the department.

More than 20 of the staff worked nearly around the clock, with some natural breaks for rest and recuperation before returning to work. The staff was sent out by Tom Cillo, department general manager, ahead of the storm. They worked in preparation of the storm, preparing for small stream and street flooding but not anticipating the powerful squall line that caused a tornado to touch down in Rebersburg in Centre County and strong gusts of wind lasting 10 minutes. The teams were prepared from 6 p.m. Monday through 2 p.m. Tuesday, returning at 7 a.m. Tuesday and working until 6 p.m. that night and returning Wednesday on a regular schedule, Myers said.

During that time, trees were cut into pieces with chain saws and hauled away, and 90 acres of grass mowed, Myers said.

Four pump stations will be staffed this weekend, with the river expected to crest at 13 1/2 feet. Flood stage is 20 feet.

On a tour of Brandon Park, officials got a glimpse of the sugar maple and Bradford pear tree down toward the western edge of the park and other large trees.