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PROVO PICKING UP THE PIECES AS DAMAGE ESTIMATES SOAR

SHARE PROVO PICKING UP THE PIECES AS DAMAGE ESTIMATES SOAR

City officials, parks workers, logging crews and police officers worked long hours Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to restore Provo to normal functioning after Tuesday's fierce storm cut a destructive path through it.

It might take longer to clean up and cost more than anyone expected. And no matter what, the city will never look the same.City officials' damage estimate is at $9 million and climbing.

The state of emergency declared by Mayor George Stewart on Tuesday remained in effect through Thursday. "There is still an awful lot of work out there that remains to be done," Stewart said.

Volunteer workers from seven other cities joined Provo Energy Department workers in restoring power to 95 percent of residents. But officials warn that the remaining 100 houses without power may be the hardest to bring back up.

"It's going to take an extended period of time to get to these houses," said Brent Davis, Energy Department manager. "Many of these homes may have extended problems that a simple reconnection won't help."

Full power is expected to be restored by the weekend but could take longer.

At Brigham Young University, where winds were clocked at 121 mph Tuesday, damage is now estimated at $1 million. The micro-burst destroyed 200 trees, blew trees onto cars and damaged the roof of the Cannon Center and a greenhouse.

City building inspectors spent Wednesday and early Thursday inspecting 19 homes that suffered major structural damage. Two houses have been condemned.

Parks Director Leroy Dennis said a Heber City logging company has been called in to remove the 100-year-old trees that now litter the Provo City Cemetery, making the cleanup there quicker and more cost-effective.

The same logging company may be hired to remove trees from Tabernacle Square, Pioneer Park and the old Brigham Young Academy.

Police Chief Swen Neilsen warned of hard days ahead.

"Now is the time when people will lose their patience and start getting very irritable," he said. "The people need to know that the cleanup is being done in the most effective manner possible and will take some time."

City cleanup crews, working a 12-hour day, removed 120 loads of fallen trees, branches and other debris from an eight-to-10-block area Wednesday. They still haven't started on the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

Officials made a plea to the public for help in debris removal.

"Anything people can do by way of moving their debris to the street could help us get on top of this by the end of next week," said chief administrator Tom Martin.