The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
TOPPLED TREES KEEP PROS BUSY
BY CATHY JETT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Joyce Messer called four tree service companies early Saturday after Friday’s violent storm toppled a tree into one of the rental units in College Heights that she manages for her daughter.
Fredericksburg-area tree service companies have been overwhelmed with calls since the storm hit, and only two responded. She decided on Goodfellers Tree Service, a 12-year-old Fredericksburg company owned by certified arborist Matthew Denson.
He gave her an estimate of $7,100 for the job for the Franklin Street property in Fredericksburg, which was about twice what the other company wanted. But Messer said she was leery of the cheaper price partly because it didn’t include a crane to lift the 15 tons of willow oak off the roof.
On Monday, Denson and one of his two crews began the hot and arduous task of removing branches and a large section of trunk that had split off a neighbor’s tree, snagged on a power line and sent a roughly 15-foot limb into a baby’s bedroom. It missed the crib by several feet, and the child was unharmed.
Goodfellers’ phone has been ringing since about 4:30 a.m. Saturday. People have been desperate to find someone to get trees off their roofs, fences and driveways, and to cut down and remove those that have fallen in their yards.
Denson, like other tree service company owners, has put the priority on the most dangerous situations, such as the one at the Franklin Street rental unit.
Removing the tree would not only enable the owner to begin repairs to the rental unit, but Dominion Virginia Power won’t service a downed power line until trees have been removed, he said.
Ace’s Tree Service Inc. in Spotsylvania County, like Goodfellers, has been slammed with calls and expects that it will take several weeks to meet all the demands, said owner Terry Van Hagen.
Crews have been working around the clock and on Monday were tackling a tree that fell on the roof of a home in Aquia Harbour.
“We’re trying to help everybody as quickly as we can,” said Van Hagen. “People are being very understanding.”
Rob Allen, who manages Bartlett Tree Experts’ office in Massaponax, said that storm-related work won’t end once the most obvious damage is taken care of and the debris has been cleared.
“There’s a lot of cracked limbs and trees with splits,” he said. “People should have a certified arborist do a basic inspection of their trees.”
Allen recommends getting an International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist because there are so many unknowns dealing with trees that have cracked or fallen, and they could be liable if someone gets hurt working on their property.
“It’s a different kind of work than simply trimming a branch,” he said.
Goodfellers’ Denson said that before homeowners hire a firm to do tree removal, they should ask the company’s insurance agency to fax them a copy of the company’s certificate of liability. His is for $1 million.
Most of the trees and branches that are being removed after the storm will be turned into mulch and firewood.
Quail Ridge Products in Massaponax, which makes and sells mulch, compost, and soil amendments, has seen a steady flow of tree service company trucks come in to drop off debris.
“We would normally see two trucks an hour,” said assistant manager Chris Matarese. “Now we’re seeing 10 to 15. They started trickling in on Saturday. Typically our gates are not open on Sunday, but we left them open yesterday.”
In the city of Fredericksburg, Public Works Department crews will offer free pickup pf moderate quantities of tree debris left at the curb or shoulder of the road until July 15. This should not include entire trees or large portions of them, or stumps.
The debris should not contain any other materials, and should be placed so it doesn’t block sidewalks, fire hydrants or drainage inlets.
Public Works crews will not collect tree debris during regularly scheduled trash collections, but residents may arrange for special collection of small quantities of debris placed out after July 15 by contacting the department at 540/372-1023. There will be a small fee for collections after July 15.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407