A half hour of torrential storms did a lot of damage to the trees of Dallas Sunday afternoon. After the 70 mph winds subsided, photos began to circulate on social media of large trees completely uprooted, branches strewn on the streets, and cars and homes crushed under the weight of massive trunks. And, on top of that, more than 200,000 people are without power 24 hours later and it could be days before it’s turned back on.
Janette Monear, the president and CEO of the nonprofit Texas Trees Foundation, said it’s hard to know exactly how many trees were lost in the storm, but she estimates hundreds, if not thousands. Matt Grubisich, Texas Trees’ director of operations and urban forestry, says the storm highlights the need for better urban forestry management in Dallas to avoid planting trees in sensitive areas, like next to power lines.
Homeowners may not think too much about the trees on their property until one collapses in their yard or on their roof. But there are precautions to ensure trees on properties remain sturdy during high winds and are dealt with properly should they fall.
- Don’t Let Just Anyone Remove the Fallen Tree in Your Yard
“People with a pickup truck and chainsaw will come to this area offering to do this work for very, very cheap,” Grubisich said. “If something goes wrong, they’re going to be back in their pickup truck.”
If you have a fallen tree, always hire a qualified, insured company to take care of it. If the tree is pruned incorrectly, it might hold up worse in the next storm that rolls through. Also, if someone uninsured causes more damage to your home or gets hurt during the process, that could be a homeowner’s claim on you. An insured company, on the other hand, will cover any further damage incurred.
“If a person falls off your roof, he can make a claim against you as the homeowner,” Grubisich said. “If it’s a reputable company, their insurance will cover that.”
- The City is Only Responsible for A Fallen Tree Until Your Property Begins
If a tree on your property has fallen and is blocking a road, it’s the city’s responsibility to clear it, but only up to your property line. Beyond that, it’s up to you. So contact your insurance right away.
- Hire an Arborist for Your Trees
If you want to maintain the trees on your property and ensure they are more sturdy in strong storms, hire an arborist to correctly prune them once a year. According to Grubisich, areas like the Meadows, where trees are better maintained, suffered little damage on Sunday.
The difficulty with assessing the storm damage and working on efforts to replant comes with the fact that many trees lost were on private property. Educating people on how to take care of their own trees is a central focus for Grubisich, and he says it can prevent the loss of trees in future storms.
- Don’t Cut Down Your Trees
“This is not a time to cut down trees because they can cause problems,” Grubisich said. “Trees are still an asset to your property and you should invest in them just like you would work with a professional on anything else in your house.”