Saws buzzed through the thick bark and trunk of a pine tree that had been hoisted off the roof of a home in Betton Hills — a familiar sound in pockets of the city once residents surveyed the damage done by Hurricane Idalia.
Miller’s Tree Service, the largest tree clearing company in Tallahassee, used a 105-foot, 40-ton crane to remove the tree and giant fallen limbs that punched through the roof. The quiet neighborhood’s ambient soundtrack became the giant machines at work, the crane and a Yanmar tractor scooping the logs into piles.
Neighbors watched and took pictures of the sight, knowing it could have easily been their home.
Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast as a Category 3 storm at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday with 125 mph winds — making it the first major named storm to touch the Apalachee Bay and impact the capital city with hurricane-force winds.
The blow was far less in Tallahassee, which recorded a top wind gust of 55 mph.
Clay Culpepper, a partner at Miller’s said, said the company fielded dozens of calls Wednesday morning from residents. But, like many residents, he was expecting the worse based on the storm’s forecast.
“I’ve driven in a lot of storms for the last 20 years and this one has not been very bad at all for Tallahassee,” he said, while driving around northeast Tallahassee to survey damage and potential weak trees.
Other storms, Hurricane Hermine in 2016 and Hurricane Michael in 2018, leveled parts of the Big Bend and knocked out power and trees in the capital city far more than Idalia.
“This has been relatively minor, so we got really lucky,” Culpepper said.
Heavy rains saturated the ground when those previous storms hit, which caused the strong winds to lift and split trees like twigs. Culpepper said it’s been relatively dry in recent days, which helped save the city.
Hurricane season ends on Nov. 30. In the days to come, Culpepper said he’d encourage residents to consult with a certified arborist.
“Have them come out and just look at their trees and look for things their eyes aren’t trained to look for, like diseased trees, dead trees, trees that have a rough base that they may not be able to notice,” Culpepper said. “I would just say make sure you’re being proactive.”
Idalia text message updates:Sign up to receive updates on Hurricane Idalia and its aftermath from journalists across the USA TODAY network
Contact Reporter TaMaryn Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.