Town emergency crews prevent damage to our home

Tree removal beginsWakefield Massachusetts experienced intense wind and rain on the night of Wednesday, May 25, 2005.  About 11 PM, Dana heard a loud bang, and simultaneously the lights went out.  It later turned out that a tree had struck a power line, but that was the least of our problems.  At about the same time, a mature maple tree near the street in front of our home had slowly tipped against the side of the house, and was resting against the roof and the rain gutter.

A fire crew arrived promptly in response to a report of sparks from the power line.  Assessing the situation, they immediately called the Municipal Light Department and the Tree Department, reporting that "a substantial town tree" had fallen on a house.  Soon our street was filled with large trucks, as the electric crew restored power and the tree crew began their work.  After making sure that we were safe, the firemen moved on to their next call.

While a crane braced the tree, a worker using a bucket lift truck maneuvered through the branches with a chain saw, skillfully deconstructing the tree bit by bit and dropping the pieces well clear of the house.  Other workers fed branches into a chipper, then hoisted the larger pieces onto a truck.  About three hours later, tree removal was complete, with no visible damage to our home.  As they left around 2 AM, the Tree Department crew told us they would be working a full shift the next day.  These town employees showed outstanding courtesy, skill, and dedication while working long hours under difficult conditions.

Disease had weakened the tree, which turned out to be rotten in the center, but saturated ground and high wind were the more immediate causes.  As it tilted, massive granite curbstones, each weighing about 1200 pounds, acted as counterweights to slow its fall, and the tree branches spread the impact across the surface of the roof preventing any immediate damage.  But the tree could easily have shifted as high winds and rain continued, breaking shingles and bending the gutter with consequent water damage to the house.  Prompt action by the town's emergency crews spared us potentially serious and expensive repairs.

(See more photographs here.)

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Last updated January 20, 2006