Ice-covered trees fell on Austin roads. The city doesn’t want your help clearing them.
The ice storm that blew through Austin this week snapped oak trees like popsicle sticks, leaving the city's streets littered with broken branches.
Now, the city is trying to clean up the mess. But they don't want residents to help.
"We ask the public not to touch that debris [on public streets and sidewalks]," said James Snow, interim director of Austin's Public Works Department.
He asked people to call 311 to report downed branches instead.
"Sometimes there's entangled power lines," Snow said. "We want to make sure just to be safe."
Meanwhile, 311 is being flooded with calls. The wait time to speak to a live agent late Thursday morning was under 20 minutes, despite the pre-recorded estimates saying the hold time would be significantly longer.
Public Works will start by clearing major thoroughfares and then move to residential streets.
The task is gargantuan. Austin has more than 2,500 miles of streets. And Public Works has 105 people divided into 15 crews to clear them. Workers who normally fix asphalt and concrete are helping to clear debris. At least three contractors have been brought in to help.
Austin residents clearing debris on their own property can cut up larger items and leave them at the curb for Austin Resource Recovery. The city is resuming collection of trash, recycling and yard waste today beginning with where they left off on Tuesday.