Omaha residents feeling neglected, unprioritized by city cleanup efforts

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The City of Omaha says it’s all hands on deck for curbside pickup and cleaning up storm debris that is still lingering across the Omaha metro.

But some Omaha residents say they wish the city would do more to help.

“We were told by the news, by the mayor, to have this stuff put unto our curbs and they will pick it up,” says northeast Omaha resident Tuere McKinney. “Unfortunately, then we were told we had to chop it down. Now I don’t know about everybody else, but I don’t have tools to chop tree limbs.”

McKinney had concerns from the start about the city’s curbside pickup requirements. She knows there are many others who also don’t have the tools or resources to meet the exact standards of the city when it comes to pickups.

If debris piles don’t meet those standards and they get skipped, McKinney says it will negatively impact their neighborhoods.

“What’s happening is that they’re dumping it in our vacant empty lots making it an eyesore in our community and we try our best to keep our community nice and clean, despite where we live, and we have eyesores like that when there are people who just can’t do those things,” she says.

According to the city’s Storm Damage Clean Up map as of Tuesday afternoon, the majority of the areas that have been completed are west of 72nd Street. But Mayor Stothert says there’s a good reason for that.

“There’s a lot of loads, mostly in district one, northeast Omaha. It’s slower in that area, not because we treat northeast Omaha differently, but because there are lots and lots of cars parked on the streets, and its making it very difficult to get to the curb and pick up that debris,” she says.

But those who live in the area feel as though certain areas of the city are being prioritized.

“We want the same clean streets as they do, if you look at my street you don’t see bottles and beer bottles and diapers, no you see a nice, clean street with tree branches on our curbs, that’s what you see. Same as west Omaha. We’re all Omaha, we should all get the same treatment,” McKinney says.

“It kinda makes us feel like, you know, we’re not worthy of us picking it up. My brother-in-law cleaned up, put it here right after the storm and it’s still sitting here,” says Donna Smith, who lives in North Omaha. “They drove down the street a couple times and just kept going. Not even picked up none of this debris,” she says.

“We’re understanding that Omaha got hit really bad, but we don’t want to be forgotten about either,” McKinney says.

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