Holton Ice Storm Recovery Heats Up

It could be another year and a half before Holton is fully recovered from December's ice storm.

Paul Moser knows what a long road it's been. He was out in his yard Tuesday, raking up still more brush that had fallen from his trees. He says he's had piles picked up three times already, and saw many trees lost altogether.

He's not alone. City crews worked two months helping Holton residents clear downed limbs. Now, they're using federal emergency money to hire a contractor to help them out. Those crews were out again Tuesday, loading trucks with limbs that had been piled up at the curbs.

Holton City Manager Glenn Rodden says almost every tree in town suffered some damage from the December storm that coated the town in two-and-a-half inches of ice. He says the crews are going through and cutting back limbs hanging over the rights of way, creating more brush that they're now cleaning up. Rodden says the brush work is about 75-percent complete and should wrap up by the end of the month.

Utilities, however, are another story. Rodden says the ice damaged the city's entire electric system - every circuit, every customer was out for at least some period of time.

Rodden says a recent study puts the price tag for rebuilding the system the way it should be at $2.4 million. He says with wind gusts last week causing new outages, the need is very real. It will also be very time consuming. Rodden says many power poles were damaged, and current fixes are only temporary. Replacing and rebuilding, he says, could take 18 months.

Rodden says for the most part, people have been patient. But he understands frustration.

"It was our Hurricane Katrina," he said. "We'll be recovering from this for quite a while."

Moser is among those ready to take a break from the branches, but as he swept a few more into a pile, smiled, "This should be it now!"

Holton will keep its disposal site off 8th and Vermont open through the end of the month to accept tree debris. Rodden met with FEMA reps again Tuesday to discuss possibly more federal help.

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