The Clean-up Act: Catching up Afterwards


Thinking about the the trees that went over in our yard during the three hurricanes of 2004.

We had those three big oak trees that went down in the back but then we also had smaller trees that went down on the front of the property and tons of branches that were ripped off and ended up all over everywhere.

There was some tornadic activity during one of the hurricanes and that had an impact on the trees too.

One of our trees was basically shorn in half. It was the weirdest looking thing. It had branches growing out from one side and no branches on the other side because those ones had gotten stripped off.

The tree did survive and 10 years later you couldn’t see that that damage had even happened. Branches are growing out the other side now.  It looks completely balanced and like nothing ever happened to it.

I think the thing that surprised me most about all of the oak trees that went down across the state was how they actually sell. Their whole root system pulled up out of the ground and they just basically fell over.

When you saw those root systems, you could understand how the trees would fall. The root systems are so shallow. They basically just spread out across the ground.

What happened was that it rained so much In those hurricanes that the ground got super soaked and then the roots had no purchase. They just basically pulled up out of the dirt.

All over the state you could see giant oak trees laying on their sides with their entire root systems intact but sticking up out of the ground all fanned out. I heard somewhere once that the roots of an oak tree don’t grow deeper than six inches into the ground. What I saw when all those trees went down bore that out.

It was very impressive.

It was also a giant cleanup effort.

First, those trees going down fell on a lot of power wires. So power was out for thousands of people for days. What a nightmare that was. It took weeks to get all those wires cleaned up. Emergency crews came with their trucks from bunches of other states to help with that effort.

And then just the hauling away of the tree debris was a tremendous effort. On our acre yard alone we had tree debris, branches, logs and trunks all stacked up around the perimeter of the yard waiting for the special yard waste service to pick it up.

The state paid for those emergency pickups. So these giant trucks came out with hydraulic claws that reached down and grabbed all of the tree debris. We had so much debris that we probably had a 5-foot high stack all around two sides of our acre property.

The trucks came and took all of that away, just like they did for all of the yards across the whole state.

It really was an impressive cleanup effort.

I don’t think any of us will forget that six-week period at the end of summer 2004.

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