Who to Call when a Tree Has Fallen in the Street

In many parts of the country, bad weather is usually to blame for trees toppling over in yards and streets. Heavy rains can soften the soil, and one good snowfall is all it takes to tip a tree over. In areas of micro bursts and high winds, toppled trees are pretty common. If the tree is small and lightweight, grab a neighbor and pull the tree alongside the road. But, what do you do if it’s a 60 foot maple tree that’s fallen into the street?

Call the authorities

The first call that should be made is to the police department. Let them know that the tree has fallen in the street and is obstructing the road. Depending on where you live and how busy they are, someone generally shows up between 5-20 minutes. If the tree is an dangerous location with a high risk of causing an accident, call 911 for an immediate response.

After calling the police, place a call either to the county highway district or the street maintenance division at City Hall. Road maintenance crews always have emergency road crews on standby and will quickly dispatch a team of sawyers. Do let them know the tree is in the street and the police have been called.

Set out flares or warning lights

While waiting for the police to arrive, try to prevent anyone from running into the fallen tree. In a neighborhood with slower speed limits, most motorists will see the tree from a few blocks away. However, if it’s nighttime or the tree has fallen on a hilly or curved road, chances are someone will plough into the tree, especially if the speed limit is on the high side and the weather is nasty.

Without risking your own safety, place a flare or caution light in an area where it can be seen from a distance away. Out in the country, you may have to use a vehicle and set the emergency flashers. Post a friend or neighbor on the side of the street, and be prepared to explain to stopping motorists that a tree is down.

Call the insurance company

Once the police have arrived, place a call to your insurance agent. The damage caused by toppled trees usually fall under the category of an “act of God.” By notifying your agent immediately, you can give him a heads up for any claims that may be filed.

Many homeowners don’t realize that trees planted in the front street right of way usually belong to the city or county. The size of the right-of-way varies, but typically in older neighborhoods, it extends 30-35 feet from the center of the road. Maintenance and removal of these street trees are free to the property owner which is good to remember if the tree needs pruning or is diseased. If the tree clearly was on your property, but blew over into the street during a high wind, chances are the road crew still won’t charge you for the tree removal. Their objective, as should yours be, is to remove the obstruction from the street as quickly as possible before someone is killed or injured in a collusion.

A toppled tree can be a bit harrowing, especially when it’s stormy and dark. Calling the police and the road crews, then placing flare guns or emergency lights around the obstruction until help arrives, is always the safest route when dealing with a toppled tree.

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