Savannah removes tree after limb falls on truck - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah removes tree after limb falls on truck

Source: WTOC Source: WTOC

A City of Savannah tree removal crew cut down a tree Wednesday at 208 East Bay Street, just two days after a limb fell onto a food delivery truck.

Steve Sekac, co-owner of Southern Gents Antiques, said he'd never seen a tree limb land on a vehicle, but has seen branches fall from trees around Savannah.

"There's a lot of live oaks," he said. "There's a lot of sweetgums, and a lot of them have dead branches. We've got a tree at our church where a branch fell off and landed in the parking lot."

David Knox, city forester for the City of Savannah, said it isn't uncommon for even healthy trees to lose their limbs this time of the year, especially during rainy periods.

"This is a pretty typical time of year for limb drop, particularly this year because we've had a tremendous amount of rainfall," Knox said. "The trees are absorbing as much rainwater as they can, and they're storing it up in those limbs and the top of the canopy. Those limbs get a lot of extra weight added to them internally as well as externally, so it's not unusual for a green limb to pop and break. That's just part of having an urban forest."

While some limb loss is expected, Knox said the city's seven certified arborists regularly inspect trees for damage or decay, especially in areas with high pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

"We do inspect this area much more frequently," he said. "As a matter of fact, we were down in this Emmet Park strand about a year and a half ago inspecting and evaluating all these trees, and we did a large trimming operation down here about a year and a half ago. We did end up taking out a couple of trees that we felt needed to be removed. All that kind of happened because this is a high use area. We do come back and inspect these areas for potential hazards."

 Knox said aborists look for things like excessive amounts of deadwood and holes. 

"If the tree has more than 50 percent deadwood in its canopy, if there's some large, dead leaders, if there's more deadwood than there is green, if there's large cavities in the trunk or too many limbs have large cavities, we may elect to take the tree down, " he said.

Knox said the city tries to preserve as many trees as possible, but can't risk public safety by keeping a tree that could be dangerous.

"We, obviously, want to retain trees as long as we possibly can, but we still have to be on the look out for potential hazards," he said. "After a tree has reached its point of having too much decay or too many dead limbs, we'll just elect to take it out and plant a new tree because we can't jeopardize the public safety."

Sekac agrees safety should be the priority when dealing with Savannah's old trees. 

"The first and foremost concern for everyone is safety, and then after that, everything else is inconsequential," he said. "You call it into the city, and you hope that they can get to it quickly so nobody gets hurt."

Knox said the city removed the tree on East Bay Street for exactly that reason. He didn't find any defects with the tree, but the limb that fell left a large wound and open space in the tree trunk. 

"We don't feel comfortable leaving that tree because people park underneath it," he said. "We don't want anything else to happen around the tree, so we just elected to get it out of here. Take it out and grind the stump."

Knox said the city tries to keep tree canopies in areas with heavy truck traffic raised to about 14 feet, but said branches droop during heavy rains. 

He said the city removes between 700 and 900 trees every year, but said there are more than 80,000 trees on streets and in parks in Savannah's urban forest. 

If people see large cavities, mushrooms or conks on trees, Knox said they should call the city to have an arborist inspect it. Residents can call 311 or the Park and Tree Department directly at (912) 651-6610.

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