Mother nature has downed many trees in the Chattanooga area lately and has made others susceptible. The Electric Power Board (EPB) has been doing its part in preventing trees from falling, but the weather hasn't been cooperating.
"Despite all the trees we've proactively removed, we still had nearly 650 fall through power lines this past year," says George Morgan, EPB's Vegetation Manager. More than 170 have taken down power lines this July alone.
A dry 2012 combined with excessive rain this year have caused too many trees of all types to topple.
"We've seen maples, hack berries. All varieties," says Morgan. Oaks have taken the brunt.
"The drought from the previous year caused the roots to die back," explains Morgan. "A tree that otherwise appears healthy is falling over with the soft ground."
The unusual number of falling trees poses a danger to life and property. This is why EPB continues to send nearly 40 crews year-round along a 3600 mile system, trimming and chopping potentially harmful trees.
But a bug, no bigger than the width of a penny, also poses a threat. It's called the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and swarms of them have migrated here from the Great Lakes region. Gene Hyde, Chattanooga's city forester, says the critters were first seen at the East Chattanooga Recreation Center back in June.
"Since then the state of Tennessee has slapped a quarantine on raw ash products and goods being shipped out of the Hamilton County area," states Hyde.
Insect traps have been set up at several locations and next spring insecticides which meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines will be applied within a few miles radius of the recreation center. Although it could take five years for EABs to kill an ash tree, the way it dies makes it prone to landing on homes and power lines.
"An ash rots at the base and it falls over like that," Hyde demonstrates, bending his forearm downward. "So let's say the ash tree is 80 feet tall. Anything within that 80 foot radius is subject to being hit."
If you believe you have an ash affected by EABs, Hyde suggests calling a qualified tree service to inspect and treat the tree if necessary. He says a license is required to apply insecticide or pesticide. Also look for serpentine, or snake-shaped patterns dug into the bark.
If you have a tree near you that you believe may fall, Morgan says to call EPB.