Trees: Beautiful but deadly!

Trees are beautiful but can also be deadly to Brookfield residents

Years ago, while spending time down south working on the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, I witnessed some real heartbreaking devastation. I spent a month in New Orleans and was horrified by the destruction wrought by the flood waters that destroyed the 9th ward and other major portions of the area. Most of us are well aware of how badly this fine city got pummelled by this unspeakable tragedy. I saw things there that I'll never forget: ruination beyond comprehension, but also, an awe-inspiring will to survive and rebuild, garnered from the never-say-die determination of people, whose families had owned their antebellum homes for many generations.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Many, however, are not as well informed about the massive destruction that Katrina wrought on other parts of the South. I also spent a month on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. There, my eyes beheld a different kind of destruction, no less unbelievable in it's scope than the floodwaters of New Orleans: hundreds of mighty trees swept asunder and blasted apart as if they were toothpicks set before bowling balls. I couldn't comprehend the kind of power that could wreak such destruction: some of the largest trees I've ever seen, strewn about like kindling. Needless to say, anything beneath them was destroyed as well: small shacks deep in the woods, but also magnificent estate homes in the suburbs; rich and poor alike left without a roof over their heads. But for some, being left homeless was not the worst thing: nay, homes can be rebuilt or replaced, but the lives of beloved family members unfortunate enough to be caught under these pillars of destruction could never be replaced. This too, was another, less known aftermath of Katrina.

My wife and I had made plans to fix up our property in Brookfield. When my company asked for volunteers to go to help with the Katrina effort I figured that leaving my family for 2 months would be tough, but i could make some overtime and help out people who really needed it, so off I went. We figured that we could start clearing out our property when I returned home. However, what I observed there changed that plan. I called my wife in a bit of a panic, and told her not to wait for my return: she needed to find a tree removal service and clear out the trees we were considering to remove as soon as possible. I couldn't bear the thought of one of those trees that were close to my house coming down while I was hundreds of miles away. She understood my frantic pleas and we had about a dozen trees removed. It wasn't cheap, but peace of mind has no price.

When Sandy ripped through our area this week, many of us lost power and had to deal with assorted hurricane-related inconveniences that the tri-state area has never had to deal with on such a grand scale before. My heart goes out, for example, to those poor people on Breezy Point who saw their homes utterly destroyed. My heart also goes out to two young boys who were killed in North Salem during the hurricane. Jack Baumler and Michael Robson died when a large oak tree fell on the Baumler house. I pray that their families somehow find a way to deal with their loss and may these 2 young innocents rest in peace; this is an unspeakable tragedy.

Herein lies the reason for what is written here. We need to try , as best we may, to avoid the ocurrence of such a tragedy here in Brookfield. Though I do not wish to sound like some prophet of doom, I can't stress enough the importance of trying to do all we can to prevent such a thing. Large trees over our homes do provide cooling shade in the hot summer and can be beautiful to behold. In addition, the cost of removing a large tree from one's property can also be truly daunting. But what price can one put on the life of a family member?

I personally, am an avid gardener, and the prospect of cutting down a healthy tree is painful. But the well-being of my family is my priority. I have chosen to replace many of the trees that I have removed on my property with smaller flowering cherries, dogwoods, and crabapples for example. They too, provide some shade, but never get to the size where they can destroy a home or a life should they fall...and their flowering beauty is a sight to behold. Many of the large trees on your property are not only a risk to your family, but if they fall on power, phone, or cable lines, they are also a major problem for your whole neighborhood.

But I've said more than enough...just hoping that maybe a few folks can think about what's been discussed here and maybe prevent a potential tragedy. A little forethought goes a long way.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Leslie Yager November 03, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Thanks for sharing this Phil. You've experienced what most of us can only imagine.
Leslie Yager November 03, 2012 at 01:14 PM
A saying I once heard was, 'Forests are like gardens - they need to be weeded and tended to thrive.' I plan to remove what's left of the 100-year-old maple 12' from my house and replace it with a sapling.
Phil Reilly November 04, 2012 at 01:41 AM
You're welcome...and removing that tree is a capital idea! Good luck...


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