Charlotte’s tree canopy problematic during Florence

People can look for signs of decay like mushrooms growing at the base, roots sticking out of...
People can look for signs of decay like mushrooms growing at the base, roots sticking out of the ground, or obvious cracks in the trunk.(Ben Williamson | WBTV)
Updated: Sep. 13, 2018 at 6:58 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - If you drive down almost any road in Myers Park, the first thing that may strike you is the large tree canopy.

“This is the whole reason Myers Park exists is tree canopy," said Ed McLamb, a Myers Park resident.

“We feel like the canopy defines the neighborhood,” said Mary Engle, who lives along Queens Road West.

Although beautiful, during storms, the big trees can cause major problems if they come down. Many trees in Myers Park are well over 100 years old, and with saturated ground, many won't be able to remain standing.

"If we have a significant amount of wind, more are going to blow over,” said McLamb.

McLamb remembers Hurricane Hugo.

“We lost a huge tree in our backyard. Trees were all over the road. You couldn’t go anywhere,” said McLamb.

Residents like Mary Engle do their best to care for the trees year round.

“We have our trees checked every year. We check for dead limbs and the health of the tree because if it falls, it will probably fall right on the house,” said Engle.

Her family also trims the trees, wraps them to prevent bugs, and watches for signs of decay.

“We have checked the trees. We have a generator that will be up and running and we have gathered the water,” said Engle

“The wind is the big thing we are worried about,” said Patrick George who owns his own tree removal company called Heartwood Tree. “A lot of people freaking out calling us, ‘I have to get this tree down or there is a limb over the house.'"

George had a crew in Myers Park on Thursday removing a limb and part of tree from a home in preparation of the storm.

He says people can look for signs of decay like mushrooms growing at the base, roots sticking out of the ground, or obvious cracks in the trunk.

He also says it is not just dying trees that cause problems.

“There has been regular rain and plenty of it, so, the healthy trees are growing like crazy. They have a lot more leaves and a lot more surface area and weight above ground. Limbs will be broken and hanging and will come off at some point so you have to look up if you are walking in these heavily wooded streets,” said George.

Charlotte City Arborist, Tim Porter, echoes some of those points.

“We have a large beautiful canopy in Charlotte that serve a lot of good. However, larger, aging trees are getting closer to the end and with that structural integrity is a problem,” said Porter.

Porter and his team have been prepping this week for the storm.

“We are working on getting on the same page and prepping equipment,” said Porter. "We will work with an inspector to quickly prioritize major roads and important locations.”

Porter says people need to be aware of limbs and trees coming down after the storm and be mindful of energized lines hidden in down limbs.

“Do their best to look at the trees before the storm. If you see any major red flags like mushrooms at the base, or major cracks in the trunk, do your best to mitigate the danger but also check the tree after the storm,” said Porter.

Anyone that has a tree near their home should take the next day to check their trees and check them again once the storm passes.

“I just hope that if anyone has a problem will come and knock and we will be ready to help and be there for the rest of the community,” said Engle.

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