Thursday marks one month since the derecho hit the metro area with ferocious winds that gusted to 140 miles-per-hour, decimating trees across Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha. Weeks later, the lengthy cleanup process continues.

Last Friday, the truck below arrived in our neighborhood. It was a beautiful sight to see. Like every other neighborhood in the metro, the piles of tree debris are high and wide. Friday afternoon, I was talking to a woman in her upper 70s as the fully-loaded truck drove by to turn around to go unload its now brown and crunchy cargo. The woman screamed out to them in delight. She hooted. She hollered... over a tree debris removal truck. I completely understood.

Bob James

The last few weeks have been tough. We look out over the houses of our neighbors and realize things will never look how they once did. It's an all too clear reminder that we should never take anything for granted. We look out our windows and we see piles of tree limbs, tree trunks, or entire uprooted trees still waiting to be taken care of. We want to be able to move forward from the storm but, somehow, as long as the piles are there we can't. Those who don't see it firsthand simply can't understand the scope of what we were dealt by Mother Nature.

We knew the cleanup process wouldn't be a quick one, with every single city street impacted. Watching the crew of this truck, from Wisconsin, navigate and load the piles that awaited them quickly reminded me why the process takes so long. The trucks each have two huge compartments for debris. Each load took about an hour, in full, from loading to traveling to the nearest dump site to unload and returning to do it all over again. It was quick, but there are so many piles. So many loads.

As of today, the City of Cedar Rapids has completed their first pass on just under 30 percent of the city's streets with work underway on nearly 35 percent more. You can keep up with the cleanup effort HERE. Marion has completed the first pass on just over 50 percent of their city streets. You can keep up with Marion's progress HERE.

I hope the Christmas-like feeling comes to your neighborhood soon.