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Help storm-damaged trees recover from Hurricane Sandy


October 29, 2012

The trail of damages after major storms such as Hurricane Sandy truly reveals the power of Mother Nature, and the remains can be devastating, especially for trees. Unprotected, trees are vulnerable to the storm's wrath, and the wounds might look fatal. However, even though major branches may be broken, foliage might be shredded, or the bark may be torn and gouged, trees have an amazing ability to recover from even the most severe cases. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) offers some post-storm advice to help you and your trees recover from this disaster.

Post-Storm First Aid

Do not try to do it all yourself. If large limbs are broken or hanging, or if a ladder or overhead chain saw work is needed, it is a job for a professional arborist.

Assess the damages. Evaluate your trees carefully by asking the following questions: Other than the storm damage, is the tree basically healthy and vigorous? Are major limbs or the leader (the main upward-trending branch on most trees) branch still remaining? Is at least 50 percent of the tree's crown (branches and leaves) still intact? Are there remaining branches that can form a new branch structure? If you answered "yes" to the majority of these questions, there is a good chance for complete recovery. For assistance, hire an ISA Certified Arborist to determine the tree's conditions.

Stand trees back up. Many trees suffer friction failures that cause the tree's root system to lift out of the ground as the tree leans over. Uprooted trees are often unnecessarily removed under the mistaken idea that they cannot be saved. These trees can often be saved but are very dangerous. The tension caused by the roots still in the ground can cause the tree to snap back. Consult the service of a certified arborist if you are unsure about performing this work.

Beware of price gouging. Sometimes, less credible tree services will take advantage of storm victims. Good tree work by qualified professionals is not inexpensive, however, poor work, no matter the price paid, can cost you a great deal. Professional prices should include liability and workman's compensation insurance, as well as bucket trucks and equipment. It does not include heavier specialty equipment that may be needed such as cranes, loaders, etc., or hardware that may be installed in the tree.

Financial recovery is possible. Be aware that tree losses to your landscape, whether large or small, may be deductible from your taxes. Two steps must be taken to be able to claim this deduction: