Tornado cleanup continues

Published 10:57 am Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local businesses are looking at more than $4 million in damage and the city is estimating at least $375,000 in cleanup following June 17 tornadoes in Austin.

In addition, segments of Todd Park remain closed as the parks and recreation department continues to work on one of the hardest hit areas of town. The department did not have a damage estimate Monday.

Sandy Forstner, executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, said 13 businesses have reported damage to him. Establishments on the north side of town, like Morem Tree Services and Roger and Sons, were among the hardest hit.

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The city’s estimate of $375,000 does not include labor and equipment, according to a June 22 memo from Austin Public Works Director Jon Erichson. It does include repairs to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, a police car hit while the power was out in the entire city and repairs to much of Todd Park, among other items. Much of the damage is expected to be covered by insurance.

At Todd Park, baseball diamonds have been operational, but other parts of the park remain closed, parks and recreation director Kim Underwood said.

That includes the disc golf course, where an upcoming weekend tournament is likely off, and soccer fields.

Underwood said the main problem is the large number of hanging branches that are keeping people from safely accessing much of the park.

She said she wasn’t sure when the closed areas would reopen, but it seems likely they will remain closed through the week. Underwood said crews have been working hard to get Todd Park back to normal.

“They’ll keep plugging away,” she said.