Tree damage from Tropical Storm Irma changing the look of Columbia neighborhoods

Updated: Sep. 13, 2017 at 9:16 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In a Columbia neighborhood known for tall trees, city workers used a bucket truck and a chainsaw to chop one of them down.

The truck was parked along Stratford Road in the Forest Hills community, where a huge hardwood tree slanted over the roadway at a dangerous angle.

The tree had been tilted by storm winds as the remnants of Tropical Storm Irma pushed through the Midlands on Monday.

Homeowner Gary Houck watched the crew work, saying despite their aesthetic appeal, the enormous trees could also pose a threat to people and property.

"They've outgrown their lifespan, like that one. That one was rotten to the core and it's just a matter of time. It took a little wind and away it went," Houck said.

Columbia Forestry and Beautification Superintendent Sara Holler says her department keeps a close eye on tree health, even when a severe weather system is not a factor.

Near a broken tree in front of a home on Eaton Street, Holler said much of the damage she's seen resulted from Irma's powerful gusts.

"I think the saturation of soil did not help with the winds included," she said. "But I think most of what we're seeing is actually wind damage."

The City of Columbia issued a list of nearly 50 locations where trees had fallen.

The city is responsible for cleanup if the trees are on the public rights of way.

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