Team effort in Ontonagon’s storm recovery

ONTONAGON – The village of Ontonagon Department of Public Works and area residents cleaned up fallen trees and other debris following last week’s severe thunderstorm.

“Trees will grow back, but unfortunately there was a lot of property damage out there,” Village Manager Joe Erickson told the council at Monday’s meeting. “The village responded very well and the citizens responded very well. We had a pretty good effort here to do what we had to do.”

Village Trustee Tony Smydra seconded Erickson’s view.

“The citizenry really came forward, and the neighbors, too,” Smydra said.

The help didn’t just come from familiar faces. Clerk Marcia Aho-Black witnessed the kindness of strangers firsthand.

“A camper showed up at our door with a flag that fell. How cool is that?” she asked, smiling.

While many worked hard at restoring order, some went a little too far, causing concern for their safety.

“In an emergency like that we really need to stay off the roads and let the DPW do their work,” Erickson said.

“Be careful,” former councilman J.R. Richardson commented from the audience. “If someone hits a power line, then that’s it.”

While the power outage and storm damage was far-reaching, Erickson was happy to say some things ran smoothly.

“There were no issues with our water system,” Erickson said. “The generator kicked in at the lift station.”

Erickson said if village residents pile branches of 6-inch diameters or less near the curb, DPW crews will pick them up. He asked residents to cut larger trees and branches into 4-foot lengths, if they want the wood taken away.

“We’ll do a pickup of all the branches,” Erickson said Monday. “Brush and debris can be hauled over the river by the (North Country) Snowmobile Club.”

The storm also damaged the roof of the village’s River Street garage.

“We’ll get something up there to get it water tight,” Erickson said.