Potential problems with leaf collection
MILWAUKEE - It was a busy weekend for public works departments trying to keep the storm drains clear but now they have the task of collecting all the wet leaves.
"They get a little heavy but we're out here to get them out," Sanitation Area Manager Donald Stone Jr. tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka. And with more rain in the forecast, it's always a race against Mother Nature.
"This time of the year as well as the spring, the goal is to get them off the street so they do not clog the sewer drains and sewer grates and cause further problems with the fall rains and the spring thaw," Stone Jr. explains.
But if you don't want to rake the heavy, wet leaves anytime soon, you may not have to. The city's website will give you a three-day window of when to expect collection trucks in your neighborhood since it takes them about 11 days to complete a city-wide pick-up. Donald Stone Jr. says this helps residents plan their yard work, "We want them to rake out before we get there, but we don't want them to rake out too early and then the wind blows it back in their yard. We try to get as much out as possible before the snow falls but we cannot dictate when that will happen but we try to ensure that the citizens have a cut-off day for raking it out."
Leaf collection runs through November 15th but during that time you need to be careful where you park, and it's not just because of the size of the machinery. Milwaukee Fire Department's Acting Deputy Chief Richard Kaiser says car fires become more common during leaf collection, "What we're concerned about is automobiles with catalytic converters, catalytic converter looks like a muffler, it burns from 900-1000 degrees; it's a chemical reaction to make the exhaust gases safer. What happens is people pull their cars onto the leaf pile, they go into the home and within 30 minutes they'll see their car up in flames, so that's a significant problem we have this time of the year."
The recent rains are helping keep the fire danger down, but the risk still exists. "Unfortunately underneath the wet leaves are dry leaves, so they can get heated up so that's why sometimes it's a little bit of a delayed reaction. I encourage the public to be vigilant and to be very careful where they park their cars."
And while the city may be working against parked cars and the weather, they still hope to finish collection before these leaf piles turn into snow piles.