April's rainfall is still impacting soil and downed trees
It seems like it doesn't take much wind to cause structural damage from trees here in the Tennessee Valley. The wet April has loosened soil, creating an easier environment for trees to be knocked down.
Robert Paden, owner of Paden Tree People has been an arborist for 8 years. He says our warm and humid climate provides a perfect home for trees to grow vertically. As more trees grow upright, they compete for sunlight.
"Th[e]n those trees will actually start growing towards the light, and possibly over these structures," says Paden.
Trees will slope towards the sunlight. Paden says this in addition to the sloping, many trees here have shallow root systems that are only 8 inches below the surface.
"A lot of these root systems are only sitting on, you know, a foot of dirt, so you've got the dirt, and then straight to bedrock because we're on these mountains," Paden adds.
Areas like Signal Mountain and Lookout Mountain bring the biggest threat for falling trees. State Farm Insurance says as a homeowner, if you think you have a dead or rotted tree, you are responsible for preventing that tree from causing structural damage.
Kerry Smith, a State Farm Agent in Chattanooga, says, "if the tree was rotted and they knew about it, and it causes damage to their home or their neighbors home, there could be a question about coverage in that case."
If damage does happen, Smith says to call your homeowners insurance first. You'll be responsible for a deductible. However, if a tree falls over and it doesn't hit anything, then the insurance companies are not responsible. It's the responsibility of the homeowner. If a tree falls over onto a neighbor's yard, it's the neighbor's homeowners insurance that gets kicked in.
Robert Paden says he thinks more trees are falling now because of a previous drought. The drought in 2016 created dry holes in tree's root systems, and April's rainfall is likely filling those holes now-creating root rot.
Have a weather-related story idea? Feel free to email Meteorologist Brittany Beggs.