Monday, March 14, 2005

Rock Me Like a Hurricane

Last year at this time Florida had no idea that Summer 2004 would see FOUR hurricanes march across the state. Here in north central Florida, evidence of the past hurricanes is everywhere:
  • Many damaged homes still haven't been re-roofed and sport bright blue tarpaulins
  • Whole uprooted trees laying in yards and common areas are not uncommon
  • Standing water lingers in places that haven't seen water in years
  • Some home owners haven't removed plywood sheets protecting windows
Come now the TV and radio stations warning that "it isn't too soon to start preparing for next years' hurricanes". The local citizenry have responded to this reminder and have contacted the office of this county forester requesting permits to remove one, or more, or ALL the trees from their yards.

One understands their concern, but feels strongly that the concerns may be intensified by fear. Arborists and foresters I know and respect contend that:
  • Healthy trees are less prone to fail or topple during a hurricane than aging trees with outward signs of internal decay
  • Healthy trees around a dwelling shield the structure from hurricane winds by diverting the winds over and around the structure
  • Removal of healthy trees from yards increases a dwelling's exposure to damaging winds
I do not buy the argument frequently proffered that "my trees must be removed because they might fall down IF we get a big storm". Neither does the tree protection ordinance in our local land development code, which I am employed to administer. By that logic, we should remove all SUV's from our streets and highways because "they might collide with a compact car". Or some other nonsense.

Here is what the experts are saying so far about the 2005 hurricane season.

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