A massive tree removal project is under way in the eastern Iowa town of Vinton. Chainsaws are buzzing nearly seven months after straight line winds over 100 miles an hour ripped through the area.

The July storm left trees strew across streets and on top of houses. Vinton Mayor John Watson says workers have begun to cut down nearly 500 trees.

“Every single neighborhood has two or three trees, every single block. So we’ll probably work on just about every block in town,” Watson said. This week, city leaders received official notice that FEMA will help pay for a large chunk of the project.

David Maurer and his crew are leading the effort. He said it’s easily the biggest removal project he’s ever done. “We’ve had 100 trees at one time, but 500 at a time – that’s why there are two tree services doing it…we came together to work as a team to get it done in 90 days,” Maurer said.

As the trees come down, others will eventually go up in their place. The project comes with a price tag of $118,000. FEMA will pay 75% of the cost, with the city and state paying the rest.

By Jill Kasperie, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids