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Newsdesk - 2020

Feburary 7, 2020

Remember safety first when cleaning up storm debris

RALEIGH – Recent severe storms resulted in damaged and downed trees and a lingering threat of wind and flooding. The N.C. Forest Service is encouraging homeowners and anyone looking to clean up after a storm to exercise caution and think safety first. "Everyone should be extra cautious when assessing storm damage," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler."If you’re a landowner concerned about your woodlands, talk to your county ranger or a consulting forester who can help you determine if you need a plan for managing damaged timber."

Unless a damaged tree is a safety risk, tree removal decisions can come later after the storm cleanup. After a storm, hasty or emotional decisions about damaged trees can result in unnecessary removals or drastic pruning decisions. The following are some basic guidelines:

Debris cleanup
  • Cleaning up downed debris presents many safety risks, including a debris field making for poor footing and potentially downed electric lines. If electrical wires are an issue, do not attempt tree work. Contact your utility company and let them remove the electrical wires. If you use a chainsaw, do so in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Work only on the ground and always wear personal protective equipment such as a hard hat and hearing and eye protection. Be aware of cutting any branches under tension or pressure.
Perform a general safety inspection of your trees
  • Is the soil around the base of the tree lifting or cracking? This may be an indication the tree may be falling over. Saturated soils and high winds can lead to uprooted trees. Long periods of standing water can cause additional stress and mortality.
  • Look up into the canopy of the tree. Are there any cracked, split or broken hanging branches?
  • These problems will need to be inspected and addressed by a qualified arborist.
Tree Pruning vs. Tree Removal
  • Trees that have lost branches and are not an immediate hazard may be preserved with corrective pruning. This decision does not need to be made immediately and should wait until after the cleanup. Again, a qualified arborist should inspect the tree to assist you in making your decision.

Choose a qualified and insured tree service or consulting arborist. To find qualified arborists in your area, visit The International Society of Arboriculture at, the American Society of Consulting Arborists at, or the Tree Care Industry Association at

You can get more information and advice on proper tree care and tree assessment following a storm on our site and following the links to storm recovery under forest health. Additional advice on proper tree care can be found on the N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage or by calling 919-857-4842.

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This page updated: Thursday, April 5, 2018 12:01

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