The situation began logically as a result of severe weather late last month. We had one of those springtime Nebraska blizzards. A wet, “packy”, snowfall accompanied by 50-plus miles-an-hour north winds.
At around noon, I peeked out the window to see whether or not the mail carrier was going to be on time. That’s when I saw a large panel of construction material flying through the air from the north and then become captured in the branches of a tree. I was briefly astonished but then chalked it up to being just another case of storm related litter.
After the storm passed, it was time to survey the yard for any downed tree limbs and other possible debris. That’s when I saw dozens of pure white, wall-size, panels trapped in the grove of trees near my yard. All of the objects were broken into very large pieces. They were obviously made from Styrofoam.
Next, I examined the river bank and discovered more large pieces of the Styrofoam had become snagged in weeds on the steep slope that leads towards the river. There were also a few chunks that had become trapped on tree limbs that had fallen into the river prior to the storm. So not only was the Styrofoam some serious litter, it had also become water pollution.
I managed to pick up most of the Styrofoam slabs that had landed in my yard and stuffed them into the garbage dumpster. I set the largest piece aside and placed it in the garage just in case there might be a use for it sometime later.
Three days later, it became apparent that nobody was going to clean up the Styrofoam litter in the trees. So, I took a walk up the street to search the probable source of the white panels. A small construction company lot, a couple of blocks away, appeared to be it. A neat stack of Styrofoam wall insulation was near the building’s doors. There were also more large, broken chunks of the stuff trapped on the chain-link fence around the property.
The company’s building was locked, so I left a large “Post It Note” with a short description of the problem plus my phone number.
A day later, there had been no response, and the note along with a UPS package delivery notification remained on the door. I went back home to call the company. The next problem was that there was no phone listing for the construction firm. Following an hour of sleuthing, a woman told me the owner’s cell phone number. I called it and left a voice mail describing the problem.
That Friday evening, while I was out of town, someone removed the Styrofoam from the grove of trees. It was nice to have the neighborhood look clean again. Then, I checked the river bank. Those broken Styrofoam panels were still there.
The next business day, Monday, I called the owner of the construction company to thank him for removing the Styrofoam from the grove of trees. He acknowledged my gratitude. Then I asked when and who was going to remove the remainder of the panels from the river bank. That’s when he heatedly replied, “I’m not going down that steep bank for any reason. Whoever wants that material is welcome to keep it.”
During the rest of the conversation, he denied being the original owner of the Styrofoam. Furthermore he tried to assert that the panels must have blown in from somewhere south of the river. In any case, the construction company refused to take any responsibility for the Styrofoam panels.
Because the river bank apparently belongs to the City of Norfolk’s sanitation and irrigation department, I placed a call to the city administrator’s office. I described the situation and requested litter clean-up. I noted that the trash is on city property and I didn’t want to become injured trying to gather the panels on that land. The official said she would find the proper city department and they would “take it from there”.
So, that is the situation now, at the time of writing this post. There are large, unsightly Styrofoam slabs in the river bank that need to be retrieved before the wild grasses grow tall and make the clean-up even more difficult.
It seems that there will be a lot of waiting for someone to do something about this.