Tree troubles

A large tree limb, already damaged from last year’s June derecho, fell across Wells Avenue in Marietta’s Norwood district Wednesday afternoon, leaving six homes without power. The street was closed to traffic for several hours while city crews removed the remainder of the huge sugar maple tree.

“I was in my living room and heard a noise. I thought our pets had gotten into something at first, but then I looked outside and could see tree limbs and leaves falling onto the street,” said Marlene Delaney whose 137 Wells Ave. home sustained some damage when a mast supporting electrical lines to the house was torn down by the fallen limb.

“It all happened so fast,” she said. “I saw the limb fall into the lines, and the power went out.”

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m.

Delaney, who’s lived in the home for 26 years, said her daughter is usually working, but was off Wednesday afternoon and happened to park her car up the street instead of directly in front of the house where the vehicle is normally parked.

“Thank God no one was hurt and no other cars were damaged,” Delaney said.

Just across the street, at 132 Wells, an electrical conduit into Julie Duncan’s home was also brought down by the fallen limb.

“I just heard a big thud,” she said. “I thought it might be thunder, but then the electricity went out and stayed off. I was canning and freezing vegetables, and doing my laundry. It’s pretty aggravating.”

While neighbors helped with the laundry, Duncan stood on a front porch, watching as a Marietta streets crew began removing the massive sugar maple tree from which the limb had fallen.

She said the tree has been a problem since she moved into the neighborhood in 2006-first because the roots had crushed her waterline. Then last year’s June 29 windstorm blew half of a large limb from the tree onto her porch roof, damaging the porch and a portion of the home’s slate roofing.

The remaining half of that limb fell across the power lines Wednesday.

Next door neighbor Oscar Gober said it was just a matter of time before the limb came tumbling down.

“After the first half fell last year, we could see the other half gradually leaning toward the street,” he said. “I told the city last spring that the limb would take the power out for several homes if it fell. It finally came down today.”

Gober and his neighbors had expressed their concern several times to the city that the damaged limb would eventually fall.

“We went back and forth with the city tree commission, but they said they wanted to try and save the tree,” he said. “All of this could have been prevented if they would have just removed that limb.”

Duncan agreed.

“I love trees, but this one wasn’t healthy. Sometimes the city should listen to citizens when they have concerns,” she said.

City streets superintendent Todd Stockel said most of the tree would be removed, down to the trunk, Wednesday, and the rest would be taken out within a few days.

He said the streets department works with the city tree commission to determine which trees located within the city right of way-including the Wells Avenue sugar maple-should be trimmed or removed.

Stockel said a new computerized database has been developed that includes all trees along sidewalks in the city right of way, and by accessing that database he can tell the tree’s condition and whether there have been any concerns logged by citizens about the tree.

Tree commission member Marilyn Ortt said she also checks the database every morning to see if any complaints have been logged.

“If there is a concern, I contact the streets department and the tree is checked, usually within 24 hours,” she said. “If we thought a tree or limb was going to come down we would have it removed.”

Ortt said the Wells Avenue sugar maple was being checked when neighbors called with concerns about the limb, but the commission had hoped to save the tree from having to be destroyed.

“We’re losing a lot of our sugar maples, which are considered hardwood trees,” she said.

Ortt said the loss is likely due to climate change, noting that even with a wetter-than-average July, much of the last few years have been impacted by drought.

AEP workers at the scene said power was expected to be restored to all six of the affected Wells Avenue homes by Wednesday evening.