Saratoga County begins cleaning up storm debris

The power is back on, but the trees are still down.

By Thursday morning, just 200 Saratoga County homes were without power, giving many people their first opportunity to deal with the havoc wreaked outdoors by Monday's ice storm.

The sun was shining, but with temperatures refusing to budge, tree limbs continued to carry their heavy cargo of inch-thick ice. Lawns remained beautiful, but treacherous icy carpets, and fallen branches were nearly frozen into the ground. The whir of chainsaws replaced the sound of snapping branches, as municipal and private crews Thursday made their way from one clean-up project to the next. Many side roads were closed to traffic while broken trees were cut and carried away.

We've been out here working since Monday, said Robert Aschmutat, a crew member for the town of Ballston's Highway Department.

The crew was removing a fallen tree on Martin Avenue in Ballston Spa, which narrowly missed crashing on a house behind it.

"Fortunately we're seeing mainly old, rotting trees and pines that fell, so they didn't go down with that much force," said Aschmutat. "But it's incredible what's out there."

Any trees lying on municipal property will be removed by the towns, but on private land, homeowners are responsible for getting their debris to the curb.

"We'll be picking up anything people put out," said Patty Bowers, village clerk in Ballston Spa. "People are resigned to the fact they have a lot of work to do."

In the town of Malta, which sustained the worst of the damage, highway crews had already done their collecting at homes in the northern end of town by Thursday morning, and will complete the southern end in the next day or so.

"We've been so busy; it's such a mess out there," said Sue Dellaporta of the Malta Highway Department. "I haven't had a chance to even think about cleaning up the branches from my own yard."

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