In the wake of the Rockport fire, many homeowners' lots are still littered with burned trees and brush amidst a burn-scarred landscape. Over the next two weekends, volunteers will assist residents who need help in removing this vegetation before reseeding efforts begin next month.
Nachi Fairbanks, who serves as a board member for the Lake Rockport Estates Property Owners Association, said they decided to see if they could do something for residents after the fire.
"Everybody after the fire was saying, 'Are we going to do something?'" Fairbanks said. "The board decided to get some contacts made and see what we can do just to help people who need an extra hand getting everything out."
Lake Rockport Estates is looking for volunteers to come out on Saturday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 5, to help clear out burned scrub oak and debris from residents' land. Fairbanks said that 35 properties have requested assistance, most being one-acre lots with varying amounts of trees.
Volunteers will be loading the burned brush and debris onto trucks and trailers to be transported to a burn pile.
"We want to do this so we're a little better prepared for reseeding," Fairbanks said. "Then we won't have those remnants sticking out of the grass next spring."
Summit County Emergency Manager Kevin Callahan said he expects reseeding efforts at Rockport to begin by mid-October. Currently, the county has hired a contractor who is installing fencing at key locations in the Rockport burn area.
"With the reseeding, the more that we have done to the lots and the less trampling [that occurs], the better chance [the new seed] has," Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks hopes to complete all of the clearing work in one day but says they are planning to work on Oct. 5 should some work remain. She added that many Rockport residents have been able to do a lot of work on their own, but there are many older residents who need help.
"Everybody's happy to help those clean up who want the help and to put this fire behind us and continue moving forward," Fairbanks said. "If people want to help us, that would be awesome. We could definitely use a hand."
For those interested in volunteering, the initial meeting place for the clean-up day is at the entrance of Lake Rockport Estates near the dumpsters at 9 a.m. Lake Rockport Estates is in need of chainsaws and chainsaw operators with sharp chains, 2-stroke gasoline, bar chain oil, protective eye wear, chaps, ear protection and hardhats. Anyone with loppers, a skid steer or loader, a dump/pick-up truck or trailer is encouraged to bring one.
Volunteers should wear work clothes including gloves, sturdy footwear, a long-sleeve shirt, a warm layer and, potentially, rain gear. Lake Rockport Estates will provide bottled water, drinks and snacks.
If any volunteers plan to arrive later than 9 a.m., they should contact Nachi Fairbanks at 801-971-1693.