Rain on the way! Know who to call for tree emergencies.

By Canopy Team on January 6, 2017

As California prepares for a wet and wild weekend thanks to the “atmospheric river” heading our way, it’s a good time to brush up on your emergency preparedness. Great resources include tips and services from Santa Clara County  and San Mateo County, as well as the City of Palo Alto’s winter storm information page.

Before a storm: Look for warning signs

This article from the Sacramento Bee and this guide from New York are good primers on what to look for. Cracks in the soil or a leaning trunk with upraised soil near the base can be signs that a tree’s roots are unstable.

According to arborist Kurt Stegen, conifers like Redwoods, Pine, and Cypress can be especially vulnerable since their needles can hold extra water, making their evergreen canopies extra top-heavy.

Multi-trunk trees with weak attachments (see examples in the New York guide) are also at risk of failure.

If needed, get an expert (and objective) assessment

If there’s a tree on your property that concerns you, it’s a good idea to have a consulting arborist take a look and assess the risk. Consulting arborists have no financial incentive to recommend pruning or removing your tree, so you can feel confident they’re giving you their best advice.

As our Program Director Michael Hawkins comments, “Trees should be a source of joy, not anxiety. You can never be 100 percent sure a tree won’t cause damage in a storm, but hiring a professional to inspect the tree should give you peace of mind.”

Consult Canopy’s arborist list for searchable list of local certified professionals.

During a storm: Know who to call for tree emergencies.

During a big storm, it’s inevitable that some weakened trees will not survive. Here are local resources to help you weather the storm:

In Palo Alto

  • For downed street trees (or any public tree):
    • Weekdays during business hours – Call the Public Works Urban Forestry Division at 650-496-5953.
    • Weekends or after hours – Call the Police non-emergency number at 650-329-2413.
  • For downed tree on your private property: Check Canopy’s arborist list, and search for companies that provide “Emergency Tree Services” (under “Other Services:).
  • Report power outages at 650-496-6914. Find other useful numbers on Palo Alto Utility’s “who to call list.”
  • If it’s a serious emergency, like a tree falling on your house or a downed power line, call 911.

After a storm: Check your trees for damage

This article from Treehugger provides good tips for providing “first aid” to your tree after a storm. But be safe! If your tree has sustained significant damage, it’s probably time to call an arborist who can assess whether the tree will recover, or if it’s time to remove it before it becomes a hazard.

Update 1/10/17:

Storm coverage and resources from the Palo Alto Weekly:

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