Storm Damage and NJ Tree Services
Mark Twain famously said,
“Everybody loves to talk about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
Most tree care professionals will probably disagree with this assessment—a great deal of the work done on landscape trees is undertaken with the weather in mind.
For example, tasks like trimming, pruning and removal work to combat the effects of wind and snow; planting the right species for the local climate; creating shade to keep homes cool; the list goes on. And when stormy weather strikes, it’s tree care companies that are often the first call made by property owners to come in and make things right.
“During a storm, trees can end up anywhere—on a building, on a car, on power lines,” says Eugene Brennan of Brennan’s Tree Service, based out of Vauxhall, NJ.
With over three decades in the tree care business, Eugene says he’s developed a pretty effective system for prioritizing calls that come in to the office. The staff at Brennan’s Tree Service follows a protocol to ask for specific information that will help them determine how a particular storm cleanup call should be prioritized (existing customers always top the list).
Thanks to smartphones, the ability to receive visuals from customers instantly has proven very handy. Eugene, says customers can send him images via smartphone so he can put priority and safety issues at the top of the to do list.
Eugene scouts to assess the drivability of various job sites, hoping to prevent a situation where a large truck, or piece of equipment, and ends up unable to get through.
The Post Storm Tree Removal Process
The first step in responding to a storm is always to make safety the priority, says Eugene. He thinks back to Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Northeast in 2012. “Obviously, even though we were getting calls [while the hurricane was happening], I’m not calling my crews in then. I’m not going to put someone on a roof in the middle of a hurricane.”
Brennan’s Tree Service conducts a pre-storm plan, where the crews are on notice and equipment is prepared ahead of the storm and the calls coming into to do many of the various storm damage tree removals.
With the Essex, Union and Morris county area being densely populated, housing is closely developed and a big tree can have an impact on several homeowners at once. Brennan’s tree removal crews are on call and work long hours, sometimes for weeks to clean up after a storm rips through the area.
The Dangers of Storm Damage Tree Removal
Removing a tree from a front or backyard is a lot easier then removing a big silver maple or red oak from on top a house or building. With more stress points, plus being careful not to do more damage to the property, care must be taken so limbs don’t snap back, puncture roofs, windows or worse have a heavy trunk crush a wall or snap the roof framing. The trunks of a large tree are weighted in tons not pounds.
With downed electric wires and cables wrapped in the limbs, crew safety and shock hazards must me taken into account. If needed, the electric company needs to be notified and Brennan’s Tree Service, lets them assess the danger and works with the power companies to remove trees and limbs to restore power and cable.
Not only downed wire, but underground utilities such as gas lines and sewer lines can be punctured when a storm damaged tree falls and a broken limb, is driven deep in the ground from the weight of the tree. Eugene says, “We are listening for hissing sounds, smelling for gases and take site evaluations serious when first coming on the site.”
Working with Customers
Brennan’s Tree Service does not travel outside their normal coverage area to “chase” storm work—meaning that after a storm event, it’s often their own existing customers who they’re working with. Many time’s these are people who have suffered destruction to their homes and properties, so working with them means more than cleaning up the trees and branches.
Brennan’s Tree Service, serves the Short Hills, Montclair, West Orange, Summit, Mountainside, Irvington, Caldwell, Union, Madison, Scotch Plains, Berkley Heights and surrounding communities.
“Usually with storm work, you have to work with the insurance companies—understanding who pays, and how you get paid,” says Eugene. He adds he often has to assist the homeowner in communicating with their insurance company.
Brennan’s Tree Service says, “You may have no recourse with your insurance company because your trees didn’t hit anything. The way insurance companies work is, if the tree doesn’t hit a house, car or structure. Insurance companies don’t pay to remove the tree. Even if a tree does hit a house, a homeowner’s insurance policy typically will only pay to get the tree off the house—not for any of the related cleanup and debris removal work.”
And storm cleanup isn’t something that occurs only after large “named” storms that make the news. “A couple of Friday’s ago we had a very windy day.” A couple of emergency calls came in, then some more, and eventually two of the company’s crews were brought in to respond. Sometimes, Eugene adds, it’s something as simple as a summer thunderstorm, heavy wet spring snow or winter ice event that causes tree damage that needs to be cleaned up. Because talking about the weather is one thing, but when you’re in the tree business, people want you to do something about it.
Brennan’s Tree Service is available for all your tree care needs.
We offer pre-storm assessments and trimmings, to post storm clean-ups. Brennan’s Tree Service a trusted tree care service, serving Essex, Union and Morris Counties of New Jersey, since 1964.