Trees "Trashed" by Harvey (Hurricane Harvey that is)

Caring for Trees After Hurricane Harvey

So you just survived Hurricane-Magedon! Harvey was a monster on so many levels, and if you’re one of the one’s who suffered through his wrath, then you know how devastating this slow moving giant was! Especially for our Neighbor’s in Houston, Port Aransas, Rockport, Victoria, Corpus Christi, and all other areas that got hammered by Harvey, my Heart really goes out to you all! You’ve been in my prayers since this thing started, and will continue to be for a long time!

There’s loads of information about how to deal with insurance, home repair, evacuation and return policies, but I couldn’t really find much about what to do with your trees afterwards, so I decided to write a step by step guide on what to do with your trees after hurricane damage …. And Here it is:

What the International Society of Arboriculture has to say About it

The International Society of Arboriculture just released an article that read the following steps in and article titled, “Safe Response to Tree Related Storm Damage:” the text next to the hyphens are my own interpretations

1.       Take Safety Precautions – tree work is the #1 Deadliest Industry in the US, #3 overall worldwide. Make sure that you keep your family and pets away from damaged trees and limbs. Limbs that are damaged often move unexpectedly, sometimes from even the subtlest of wind, and could pose a serious threat.

2.       Assess the Damage – check it out, but from a distant and IMMEDIATELY call your insurance company’s Claim center. The Claims adjustors will be VERY busy, and you want to be first on their list. Make sure to take plenty of pictures from all angles, and make sure that you can see the actual damage in the photos if possible, and get those over to your adjuster as well.

3.       Resist the Urge to Do it yourself – Again …. Tree work is the #1 deadliest industry in the US – statistically speaking, 1 person will die cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey every day for the next several months. Don’t be one of them, just hire a professional … besides, realistically insurance will probably pay for it anyways, so why break a sweat, just call a pro.

4.       Hire an ISA Certified Arborist – The International Society of Arboriculture certifies individuals who have proven their skill and knowledge in all aspects of tree care, including getting that nasty tree safely off of your roof or lawn. If you’re like me, one of those “oh, I can do anything” folks, but make the right decision on this one, and just have a certified arborist perform the work!


Tree Damage from Hurricane Harvey:

With 130 mph winds sustained over HOURS AND HOURS, Harvey unleashed winds that trees simply couldn’t stand a chance against. While driving through Port Aransas, Rockport, Portland, Inglewood, etc., I counted the number of tree damage sightings there were along the way. I counted 1 out of every 3 houses had a tree that had caused damage to the house, with many trees still leaning on the house! Every single home had trees with some type of damage, and many lost trees that were hundreds of years old.

Trees that Need Removal After the Hurricane

As a general rule, if a tree has sustained more than 50% damage, then chances it will need to be removed. If a tree is leaning over onto a house or part of your property that is holding it up, then obviously your tree will have to be removed.

Check for areas of soil being “heaved” up by a failing root system. Do you see root fibers lifted out of the ground? If either of these are visible, then the tree is actively in the process of falling. Take safe measures, and stay away from it, while getting a certified arborist out to look at it and figure a good removal plan.

Caring for Trees That Survived Hurricane Harvey

But what if it lost some limbs, but not quite enough to justify removing (at that 50% canopy loss point)? In this case, you have to look at your tree as a sick, elderly patient who just got diagnosed with cancer, just broke one leg and one arm, and has massive open wounds all over, all while going on a diet of 50% of their normal nutrient and food intake…. That is to say, that your tree has just undergone TREE-Mendous stress from the damage.

For at least the next 3-5 years, you are going to have to make sure that your tree is looked after very closely, both structurally (because you may not see all of the structural damage), and from a health perspective.

Because the tree will need extra nutrients to use while healing itself, it will be very important to fertilize your trees at least once a year using a nitrogen-based, tree-balanced fertilizer. Deep root feeding is the best method, but if you can’t find a service that does this, granular spreads are a good second choice.

From the Damage side of things, it’s important to prune injured limbs back to a proper attachment point, using proper pruning cuts. Limbs that are high up in the tree should only be pruned by a qualified pro who can access the limbs using safe arborist techniques.

DO NOT use a ladder to get to these limbs. Ladders move, and if you don’t believe me, just look up the term “tree trimming failure” on youtube … FILLED with guys cutting limbs which knock the ladder out from under them.

In Conclusion:

The moral of the story is, if Hurricane Harvey, or any other hurricane has damaged your trees severely, you’re going to need some help on this one. I can’t stress enough how much safer, and smoother of a story this clean-up will be, simply by calling the right professionals to help you out. Insurance should be covering the cost, and the right pro can help walk you through that process, and get you back on the road to recovery!

If you need help with your trees in the Rockport, Port Aransas, Portland, Corpus Christi, Fulton, Aransas Pass, Inglewood, or Surrounding areas, US Tree Care is standing by to help. Please shoot us a Text at 214.440.6210 and we will do everything we can to help you get back on your feet!

My Best Always,

Matt Latham
The Tree Ninja
US Tree Care