The local tree care services won’t be shouting “wood” on construction sites for quite a while.
That’s because recent storms have already knocked down the trees for them.
Two violent storms, one on March 25 and the other on April 1, snapped and uprooted trees throughout the area, causing widespread power outages. No part of Mercer County or the surrounding area was spared.
Tree cutters say the devastation is greater than anything they’ve ever seen. and the enormous task of felling and removing fallen and badly damaged trees will continue at least into the summer.
“We’ve probably been fully booked for over seven weeks,” said Josh Shuttleworth, owner of Penn West Tree Service, Hermitage.
Immediately after both storms, arborists said they first dealt with serious emergencies, such as plucking fallen trees from power lines. After that came a mix of priority work.
“We’ve dealt with cases where trees have fallen on homes, garages, cars, greenhouses and swimming pools — we’ve ripped up and down anything a tree can touch,” says Glenn Gerasimek, owner of Gerasimek Tree and Stump Removal , transfer said.
There were well over a dozen fallen and broken trees on the Sharpsville High School football field alone.
“They were in the stands, the fence, the soccer field, the press box – there were trees everywhere,” said Gerasimek.
Trimmers are now threatening residential jobs. And for some homeowners, dealing with their insurer is overwhelming.
“There are always new homeowners who are completely shocked that they have to go through this whole process,” Gerasimek said.
Homeowner insurance policies vary in terms of tree damage coverage. All tree trimmers surveyed said that if a fallen tree damages a car, home, garage or other structure, most policies would pay for their services.
Brandon Cominsky, owner of Harp Landscaping and Trees in Hermitage, said most policies pay between $500 and $1,000 just for storm debris removal.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of that,” Cominsky said.
Both storms caused large numbers of uprooted trees. The combination of damp, loose soil and fierce wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour made it easy for the trees to uproot them.
“If you can’t straighten the stump, it becomes much more difficult and sometimes impossible to grind the stump,” Shuttleworth said.
Stumps that cannot be sanded down would need to be removed if a homeowner chooses this option. But not all trimmers have the heavy-duty equipment to pull out a large stump or very large tree, so purchases may be necessary.
And despite advances in tree felling equipment, it’s still physically demanding work, Shuttleworth said.
“It’s not for everyone,” he said.
Trimmers ask for patience.
“We probably have enough to keep us busy for the rest of the year,” Gerasimek said.
NOTE: The Herald edited the caption for a photo of the Gerasimek tree and stump removal accompanying this article to contain incorrect identifying information.