Storm Damaged Tree Removals Are for Experts: Here’s Why

Did you know that on average, more people are killed during the clean-up after a storm than during the storm itself?

It doesn’t matter what kind of storm you’re dealing with. From nor’easters to blizzards, tornadoes to even mild windstorms, all kinds of inclement weather events frequently damage trees throughout the Metro West area of Massachusetts. And, in many cases, that means storm-damaged tree removal or storm cleanup will be needed.

Storms can damage trees in many ways. Minor damage might include snapped branches or torn bark, but extreme weather can lead to entire trees being uprooted or toppled.

In this article, we cover everything you can expect when storms damage, uproot, or topple your trees, including:

  • The types of tree damage we typically get from storms in Massachusetts
  • What’s involved in storm clean up, particularly when it comes to trees and tree debris
  • Whether or not to hire a tree service for post-storm cleanup
  • The safety risks of removing storm-damaged trees (most people aren’t aware of these sometimes fatal hazards)
  • If homeowner insurance covers storm damage tree removal
  • What you should do if your trees are damaged during a storm

…and more!

If you need emergency tree service, call us right away at 508-497-8628.

An uprooted tree has fallen on a Massachusetts home after a winter storm.

Tree Damage from Storms

Storms vary in their type, intensity, and duration. So, as you might expect, do the damages. Some of the common types of tree damage from storms include:

  • Broken or hanging branches
  • Fallen limbs
  • Cracks in the tree trunk or the branches
  • Shredded, stripped, or peeling bark
  • Loss of leaves
  • Broken or loose cables or bracing
  • Roots pulling out of the ground or appearing where they weren’t before
  • Leaning tree
  • Fallen, broken, uprooted tree

Most trees can survive (and pose no risk to surrounding structures) if they just lose a limb or two. But, sometimes, the loss of significant limbs can make the tree unstable and at risk of leaning or falling over in the next storm. Root damage and signs of leaning are always a concern and should be evaluated by a tree service professional. And, of course, major limb damage and fallen or uprooted trees should always be handled by the pros, especially in an emergency situation.

Causes of Storm Damage in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, most storm damage to trees is caused by:

  • High winds can quickly result in broken limbs, cracked bark, or trunks, or can even knock trees to the ground entirely.
  • Ice and snow build up on branches that lead to broken branches and limbs. Sometimes the weight can snap large sections off a tree or even topple the entire tree.
  • Overly saturated soil from heavy rainfall that can cause trees to lean or uproot.

A storm-damaged tree with sections that have fallen and broken a backyard fence.

Storm Damage Tree Cleanup: What to Expect

There are a few ways that trees need to be cleaned up or repaired after a storm comes through. The exact type of storm damage tree cleanup will vary depending on whether the damages were mild, moderate, or severe, as well as what kinds of tree damage are present.

Mild to Moderate Storm Damage

When storm damage is mild or moderate, the cleanup will usually involve removing fallen branches or limbs. Hanging branches will be carefully taken out of the tree. And broken branches may need to be pruned to improve the tree’s appearance, limit access for insect pests and disease (proper pruning helps trees heal faster), and prevent future safety issues.

Severe Storm Damage

In the event of more severe damage, such as a major split in the trunk or loss of a significant portion of the canopy, an entire tree might need to be removed. And, if a tree has fallen or is leaning, it obviously should be removed as well.

How the Pros Do Storm Cleanup

Whenever a lot of branches or storm debris are removed, they’re usually fed through a chipper and turned into wood chips. Large tree parts may be put on a log truck and taken away. Fallen and leaning trees are often removed with the help of a crane. And heavy materials may be picked up and moved with a grapple on a skid steer.

The point is that you should expect heavy equipment to be used in storm damage tree removal or cleanup. If your lawn or landscape is saturated from rain and the cleanup can’t wait – such as when a tree has fallen on your house – expect that there will be some damage to the landscape. We put down special mats to spread out the weight of heavy equipment but it’s not always possible to avoid affecting your lawn or landscape.

Even if you think your tree damage from a storm isn’t severe enough to warrant calling in professional help, it’s a good idea to have a tree assessment done. Cracks, root damage, and broken branches aren’t always obvious or visible from the ground but can worsen over time and pose a serious safety risk. And small gashes or branch damage caused by heavy winds can provide enough of an entry point for diseases and insect pests to infest a tree.

Why Hire a Professional for Storm Damage Tree Removal?

Hiring a professional to do your storm damage tree cleanup has several benefits. A tree service company can:

  • Remove any trees, limbs, or branches that are posing a threat to surrounding structures (including electric or utility lines)
  • Assess the health of remaining trees
  • Take steps to ensure the health of trees in the future (such as pruning to reduce the likelihood of pest infestation from a storm-related tree wound)
  • Clean up storm debris so you don’t have branches left lying on the ground (a hazard in and of itself)
  • Do the job much more quickly (and safely!) than you can

When you hire a tree service to do storm damage tree cleanup, they will visit your property and assess the situation. Any emergency situations will be addressed first – such as trees that have already fallen or are at risk of falling on a building or nearby utility line.

Then, a more thorough assessment will be done of the surrounding area to make sure all other damaged trees are taken care of. You’ll often be presented with a range of possible solutions to clean up damaged trees, including trimming or pruning, tree removal, and more.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal After a Storm?

Many homeowners attempt to do post-storm tree removal themselves because they assume that it will be costly to hire someone to do it.

Always consult your homeowner’s insurance policy before making this decision. Many homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies will cover you if hail, high winds, ice, or other weather events take down or even just damage your trees.

Sometimes, insurance will only cover claims if the entire tree falls or does damage to your home or nearby structures, like a fence or garage.

Double-check the details because there is often a clause that’s specific to tree damage. For example, if a tree was unhealthy and needed to be removed before the storm damaged it, you may be faced with an out-of-pocket expense. That’s yet another reason why it’s a good idea to have tree service professionals conduct regular tree health assessments.

A tree that has fallen on a home's roof during a winter storm in Massachusetts.

Post-Storm Tree Removal: Safety Risks

Although you are responsible for cleaning up damage and debris after bad weather, it’s important to clarify that storm damage tree removal is not a DIY task.

You’ve probably heard stories about someone who tried to climb a tree to cut a limb while standing on a roof or ladder – and fell. However, falling is far from the only risk.

Dangers of Removing Storm-Damaged Trees

Below are some common examples of the dangers involved in removing trees that have been damaged by storms. Many of these have, unfortunately, led to severe injuries and fatalities for homeowners and inexperienced crews attempting to do storm clean up.

  • You might attempt to remove a tree that’s leaning near a power line, assuming that since it’s not touching the line, you’re safe. However, you can be electrocuted within even 10 feet of the power lines. And if the tree or branch moves while you’re cutting it, it can make direct contact with the power line.
  • If a tree is leaning against another tree, the supporting tree (or any branches) could fall on you once you cut the tree that’s leaning.
  • When one or both ends of the fallen tree or branch are pinned under other branches or debris, or a tree is leaning against another, it puts enormous stresses on the wood. Wood under tension can react unpredictably. Releasing that tension by cutting into the tree is extremely dangerous and can seriously, or fatally, harm the chain saw operator.
  • It’s not even safe to cut a tree that’s already down. For example, if the tree is still attached to the root ball, the tree could “jump” upright when you cut into it, taking you out in the process.
  • When you cut the trunk of a fallen tree that’s still attached to the root ball, it releases the pressure holding the root plate out of the ground. If the roots are still anchored into the soil, they may have enough tension to pull the stump and root ball back into the hole. The entire root ball could suddenly sit back into the root hole, trapping anything nearby underneath it.
  • After a storm, the ground may be slippery, unstable, and strewn with debris. Operating a chain saw in these conditions is extremely dangerous.
  • When cutting branches on the ground, it’s easy to bury the end of the chain saw bar in the dirt and hit hidden obstacles. This causes chain saw kickback that can seriously injure you.
  • Homeowners injured doing their own post-storm tree clean up take up valuable medical resources. It can significantly lengthen emergency response time for others injured during the storm or facing medical emergencies.

It’s just not safe to attempt to do storm damage tree removal yourself. Although it’s your legal and financial responsibility as a homeowner to clean up storm damage on your property (especially if trees threaten adjacent properties), you shouldn’t DIY the task. Hire it out!

Only an experienced tree service professional has the knowledge of trees and tree mechanics to know what to expect. He or she also has the equipment (like rigging and cranes) and tactical training necessary to understand what safety measures must be put in place to prevent injuries and fatalities.

What to Do if a Storm Damages Your Trees

You might be chomping at the bit to get rid of tree debris or fallen trees after a storm but please call for professional help instead.

For storm damage clean up, call the experienced tree service professionals at American Climbers at 508-497-8628.

Not only is it more effective, faster, and convenient to hire a team of professionals to clean up your storm-damaged trees, it’s also much safer.

If a tree falls on or near your home, we can remove it with minimal additional damage to your home. We can also conduct a tree safety assessment to determine if other trees nearby (that are still standing) might also be a liability to your home in future storms. We can help you come up with a management plan so that by the time the next storm tracks in, you won’t have to worry about as much (or any!) clean-up.

Routine maintenance goes a long way in preventing storm damage tree removals. But in the event of a storm, be sure to contact American Climbers to take care of the clean-up for you.

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