Neighbors complained before tree fell on houses

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First at Five, March 4, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Three families are homeless after a tree falls on homes, and now the city of Augusta is taking responsibility.

Pamela Goree says she says she was worried when somone told her a large oak tree fell on the house her family rents. She was afraid someone died.

"Yes I'm very lucky," she said, because her daughter knew to get out of the house.

"She called 'daddy come on,' because she heard the tree cracking," she said.

That cracking was a noise her husband didn't want to hear.

"I was scared, that's what it was. I was just scared," said Terry Goree.

Scared was also how they felt in July 2006, when part of the same tree fell on their grandson.

Back then, city workers trimmed the roughly 100-year-old tree, but the Gorees wanted it cut down.

"I wish they would've but they didn't, because we would have a home to live in," Pamela said.

They say the city could've prevented all this, and the city agrees.

"You know, hindsight is 20/20," said Dennis Stroud, Assistant Director for the Public Services Department of Richmond County.

Now Augusta-Richmond County is accepting responsibility for the damage.

"We thought that it was safe enough that it did not demand taking down at that point," Stroud said.

He says now the Public Services Department wants to get rid of old and diseased trees. He says they started talking about it last year when a tree fell on a corner store. Now this fallen tree is proving there's a problem.

"They're old and they're diseased, it's possible they could fall," Stroud said.

But for the Gorees, the plans don't do any good.

"They could've saved this from doing this," Pamela said.

They're glad no one was hurt, but they're left hoping to find a new home.

"I thank God. I think he can look out for us, I know he's strong enough to," she said.

If you'd like to report one, you can call the Public Services Department at (706) 790-7062. They say they probably wouldn't be able to come out right away, but it will help them get an idea of how many there are.

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