123-foot tree comes crashing down at Aiken home after bad storms

Sunday, May 5, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'Clock

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Augusta set a new daily rainfall record Saturday night with 2.40 inches of rain. Over in Aiken, it wasn't a record, but still an impressive 1.67 inches of rain.

All of that rain and wind can do some damage especially with older trees. An Aiken man learned that the hard way.

John Hightower didn't know how quite to react when he looked out his window this morning.

"It got my attention quite quickly," Hightower said. "I walked out here and said 'okay'."

A tree that once towered over his home stretched far across his lawn.

The wind and rain uprooted a 130-foot tree. It was so massive it stretched from the end of the backyard all the way to the front, but it just spared the house.

"We had a lot of winds," Hightower said. "The wind was moving it back and forth a couple times and these trees were being bent. So if you can rock a tree this size, you've got some pretty good gusts and then continued on storms through the night."

Sunday morning, half of his backyard was covered in tree limbs and leaves.

"We were spared not getting the house hit, but it went all the way through and up to the greenhouse behind me," Hightower said.

John says they were lucky. The tree fell just feet from their home and inches from his greenhouse, a place he holds near and dear to his heart.

"It was my father's greenhouse," Hightower said.

But it wasn't the wind and rain alone that took down this massive tree.

"You need to look at your trees," Hightower said. "You really do need to look and check them."

From the outside, it looks perfectly healthy. But a look underneath shows a different story.

"It wasn't prevalent on the other side of the tree," Hightower said. "So this was a hidden danger."

A hidden danger rotting deep inside the roots and base of the trunk.

"Make sure if they're in a hazardous way leaning towards the house, think seriously about maybe getting them taken down," Hightower said. "We've done that with several of our big trees. I know you may not like it, but if you want to keep your house it's a good way to do it."

Copyright 2019 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved