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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, SEPT. 6, 2019

CONTACT: Beth Romer, information and education coordinator
N.C. Forest Service
919-857-4819

Remember safety first during storm debris cleanup

RALEIGH – Hurricane Dorian has resulted in damaged and downed trees and branches. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is encouraging homeowners and anyone else looking to clean up after a storm to exercise caution and think safety first. Unless a damaged tree is a safety risk, tree removal decisions can come later after the storm cleanup. After a storm, hasty or emotional decisions about damaged trees can result in unnecessary removals or drastic pruning decisions. The following are some basic guidelines:

Debris cleanup

  • Cleaning up downed debris is fraught with safety risks including a debris field making for poor footing and potentially downed electric lines. If electrical wires are an issue, do not attempt tree work. Contact your utility company and let them remove the electrical wires.
  • If you use a chainsaw, do so in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Work only on the ground and always wear personal protective equipment such as a hard hat and hearing and eye protection. Be aware of cutting any branches under tension or pressure.
  • Wear appropriate clothing – hard sole shoes, gloves, jeans or overalls, eye protection
  • Look up, down and all around before you start the work to assess the cleanup risks
  • Size up lifting heavy objects to determine if you need help or can do alone
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Have a proper disposal site to place your building debris
  • Burning building debris is illegal in NC – the only items allowed are detrital debris like logs, branches, twigs and leaves.
  • Do not work on debris removal in standing water, as unknown hazards may be underneath the water’s surface. Wait for the area to dewater before cleaning up.
  • Treat any cuts or scrapes with first aid to avoid infection. If metal pierces the skin, consider a tetanus shot at minimum. If exposed to raw water, also consider Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B shots.

Perform a general safety inspection of your trees

  • Is the soil around the base of the tree lifting or cracking? This may be an indication the tree may be falling over. Standing water, which often accompanies hurricanes, can cause additional stress and mortality.
  • Look up into the canopy of the tree. Are there any cracked, split or broken hanging branches?
  • These problems will need to be inspected and addressed by a qualified arborist.

Tree Pruning vs. Tree Removal

  • Trees that have lost branches and are not an immediate hazard may be preserved with corrective pruning. This decision need not be made immediately and should wait until after the cleanup. Again, a qualified arborist should inspect the tree to assist you in making your decision.
  • Choose a qualified and insured tree service or consulting arborist. To find qualified arborists in your area, visit The International Society of Arboriculture at www.treesaregood.com, the American Society of Consulting Arborists at www.asca-consultants.org, or the Tree Care Industry Association at www.treecareindustry.org.

Resources

  • Several resources for tree care, before and after a storm including caring for storm-damaged trees, deciding whether to remove, repair or replace, planning your response, plus a post-storm assessment guide for evaluating trees is available from the N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage at http://www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/Urban_Forestry.htm or by calling 919-857-4842
  • More information and advice on proper tree care and tree assessment following a storm at http://ncforestservice.gov and following the links to storm recovery under forest health.
  • Numerous resources for storm-damaged woodlands including helpful contacts, damage assessment aids, damage impacts on trees, salvage logging, legal and regulatory guidance, safety considerations and tax implications may be accessed at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/Managing_your_forest/damage_recovery.htm

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NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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