Storms, pine beetles pose danger for ice storm weakened trees


News 12 at 11/ Wednesday, April 30, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- As summer storms bring wind and rain, experts say it's going to bring tree limbs down with it.

We've been picking up the pieces since the worst ice storm the Augusta area has seen in years, but the danger isn't over yet.

"Anything with a hazard of falling is a danger. It could hit your ca,r or it could hit you," Steve Cassell with Richmond County Engineering said.

As those April showers bring May flowers, in Augusta that means thunderstorms. It's a potentially deadly forecast for already weakened trees and whatever's underneath them.

"You've got branches that could fall from 50-60 feet," Cassell said.

Wednesday in McCormick county, they did. Trees fell on houses, crushed cars, and slammed down on mobile homes. All their damage was caused from wind.

"[Trees have] got leaves on them now. They're going to catch more wind. They've got stress cracks on them, so yeah it's still a dangerous time out there," Cassell said.

Richmond County has already picked up 26,000 hanging limbs and more than 800 leaning trees. Columbia County's debris added up to 540,000 cubic yards. But, almost everywhere you look, there are still dangerous branches just hanging there.

"You've got those up in the canopy that are broke, snapped, hanging, hazardous. So a lot of work left to be done," Quality Tree Service's Tim George said.

George runs a tree service in Aiken County and says his phone hasn't stopped ringing.

"I've had thousands of calls coming in daily to our answering service 24 hours a day," he said.

He says wind isn't the only problem. Pine beetles are known to attack damaged trees.

"It will generally kill the tree," he warns.

That means the tree will become a hazard and need to come down. He says the way to know is by the color of the pine needles.

"You'll see the pine needles. They'll start browning out," George said.

So, as we head into summer, many more trees are heading to the ground.

"The effects of this ice storm are going to be felt for years. I mean, years and years to come," Cassell said.


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