Ben Coker loads storm debris to deliver to the Northeast Transfer Station.

Neighbors in some areas of Lake Highlands have been waiting weeks to be rid of unsightly debris from the freak storm of May 28. What began as leafy branches stacked high along the curbside has devolved into a cluttered mess of dead wood.

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Sanitation Director Clifton Gillespie has almost tripled his department’s bulk trash removal capacity by hiring outside contractors to help with the extra work. They’re working six days a week to remove debris from the historic storm — and they are making progress — but one Lake Highlands resident has decided to do the job himself in his own neighborhood.

“If your bulky trash disappears this week…that’s my husband, Ben, and his little utility trailer taking care of our neighborhood here on Claybrook Drive, not bulky trash pickup,” wrote Jeanne Coker on social media. The two live near Merriman Park Elementary.

“Please give him a little thumbs up and maybe a bottle of water if you see him. He likes to stay busy, and he knows how to work hard; he’s done it all his life. He was raised on a farm with 8 siblings, so he knows hard work. Retirement isn’t his thing!”

Ben stepped down after ten years as assistant superintendent and chief financial officer of Highland Park ISD in 2011. He devoted 42 years to the field of education.

“Ben is a workaholic — in a good way,” Jeanne told me. “He has the energy of a 3-year-old. He takes great pride in our home and our neighborhood and is able and willing to help keep our street looking beautiful.”

Jeanne said the couple walks their little rescue dog every day and are familiar with the homes that needed storm debris cleared from the sidewalks.

“Honestly, clearing the debris was as much a help to us as it is to our neighbors, because we don’t have to walk our dog on the hot street. The city of Dallas has said it could be August before bulk trash service resumes.”

Ben’s work is done while most of his neighbors are off at work, so it’s likely they don’t know how the branches magically disappear. Those who do know are grateful, Jeanne says.

If you’re ready to clean up your own street, you may take storm debris to the Northeast Transfer Station at Fair Oaks from 7 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. You may learn more about what materials are accepted here. There’s no charge for Dallas residents in passenger cars, station wagons, pickup trucks and trailers less than 15 feet long hauling waste from their residences to the station at 7677 Fair Oaks. You’ll need to show your driver’s license.

If you plan to wait on city bulk trash crews, they ask that you separate the brush from the regular bulk items. Co-mingled piles may not be collected.