Workers swamped as soaked Bay area trees come crashing down

4:44 PM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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A 70- to 80-year-old Laurel Oak did just that, splitting in half at 2004 New Orleans East in southeast Seminole Heights.
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North Tampa, FL -- They may not be hurricanes or even have a name, but the thunderstorms we've been getting slammed by every afternoon are taking their toll on the Bay area.

Uprooted trees and falling branches are causing widespread damage. So what, if anything, can you do about it? Or is safeguarding yourself from tree troubles really the kind of thing you can tackle on your own?

Crews are working around the clock to trim and remove fallen trees and limbs.

On Thursday a team of six men were working at Nancy Martin's house in North Tampa.

It's hard to believe looking at them now, but when Nancy Martin moved into her home nearly 40 years ago, the Laurel Oak Trees that tower over her backyard barely reached her waist.

"About three feet, very small trees," said Martin.

Now four decades later, Martin has decided it's time to bring the trees down. A combination of age, disease, and our recent bout of wicked weather had her concerned about her life and property.

"The disease was on the wrong side, and the tree would have fallen on my house. And the likelihood would be that it would fall before very long," she said.

Arbor Bay Tree Service, which is doing the removal work, has been swamped with similar service calls in recent days.

"We're about three weeks out on the schedule and that's running six days a week," said project manager Jonathan Lee.

In some cases, the calls come too late. Trees have been toppling and limbs snapping, damaging cars, homes and other personal property.

They say an oak like Martin's can soak up to a hundred gallons of water a day. The weight is eventually too much to bear.

"On a hazardous limb? It's not gonna be good," said Lee.

When the trees are small, professionals say property owners can do some preventative pruning on their own.

But eventually power lines, power equipment, even the threat of slip and fall accidents make it a lot more dangerous.

"I'm not a very tall guy. If the tree is taller than me, allow the professionals to come out," said Lee.

The uptick in uprooting also shows you don't need a tropical storm or hurricane to bring down the big trees in the Bay area, which had weathered the weather until now.

"I knew that at some point I'd have to do something," said Martin, "I didn't want the trees falling on my house."

Remember, removing trees can require a permit depending upon where you live, so checking with a professional is not only a good safety it tip, it may also keep you from inadvertently breaking the law.