Hurricane PSA: Post-storm Tree FAQ
We understand that in the aftermath of the storm, many trees may be damaged and/or are high-risk. Please read on for information on how to SAFELY, legally prune and remove high-risk trees.
But first, here’s some good news:
Trees standing after a storm like Hurricane Irma can end up being STRONGER trees, more stable and resilient to future storms, winds, and other disturbances. Strong winds demand trees to hunker down with all their might in their root systems, therefore, trees adapt to windy conditions by strengthening and bolstering their root systems.
When we think about tree health, we often think about trunk, branches, and leafy canopy
- the obvious parts above ground that we can see. However, much of the mighty resilience in a tree comes from down below in the root system; a strong, far-reaching root system yields a healthy, adaptable tree that has a sturdy enough base to reach its canopy tall and wide. Don
not assume that a tree after a storm is a compromised one. In many cases, after withstanding strong winds, a tree will be tougher and an even greater contribution to our urban canopy!
- Check your homeowner policy before beginning any tree work. Some policies cover tree damage if structural repairs are needed.
- Call an ISA Certified Arborist to help with safe and proper removal. Hiring a Certified Arborist is a worthwhile investment. Trees increase property value when they are well maintained but can be a liability if poorly pruned or unhealthy. Unqualified individuals wanting to make a quick dollar may bring chainsaws and equipment to help clean up after the storm. However, hiring a qualified arborists is highly advised to assist with proper care for your tree(s). To find an ISA Certified Arborist in your area, contact: International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) at
http://www.isa-arbor.com, 217-355-9411 or 888-472-8733∙
- If you use equipment including chainsaws to remove limbs and fallen trees, take all safety precautions including the use of full personal protective equipment
- especially hard hats, eye protection, heavy duty gloves, and close-toed shoes. Please be sure to put safety first: stay away from loose or dangling power lines and be on the lookout for loose tree branches, parts of buildings or other types of debris when you are outside. Most injuries and deaths in a natural disaster occur during cleanup. Safety must be the first concern.
- Any vegetation or debris should be placed at the curb for pickup. It should be placed in front of your home, as close to the edge of the street as possible, but not in the street. Please visit
www.miamigov.com for information regarding debris pick up.
- Call 311 to report downed City-owned trees that
are blocking a roadway or have been significantly damaged.
A representative will also confirm if you are within the City of Miami limits.
- Call the Public Works Department at 305-416-1200 to report a City-owned tree that has fallen onto private property.
- On Private Property
- If there is a hazardous, damaged tree that is about to fall on your personal property (home, vehicle, etc.) and
needs to be removed, make sure the tree’s condition is well-documented (photographs and/or videos) to show evidence of the damage. Once this has been done, you may proceed with the steps to have the tree safely removed. A violation and fine will be issued for illegal (unpermitted) tree removal UNLESS you can demonstrate that you removed the tree due to an emergency situation.
- Trees that show cracks in the trunk or large limbs, have roots that seem to be lifting from the ground or have a new noticeable lean should be evaluated by an arborist as soon as possible.
- For a Dead, Dying, or High-Risk tree permits on private property, please visit the Environmental Resources Division’s
website or contact us at
EnvironmentalRes@miamigov.com for assistance.
- On Public Property (i.e., right-of-way trees, public parks, or other city-owned land)
- Contact 311 to report damaged or
Immediate Tree Care?
- For large branches, a Certified Arborist with the equipment and knowledge should be hired to ensure the work is done safely and properly. Ask to see the tree care company’s proof of insurance.
- If branches are too close or touching utility lines, report immediately to your local utility company. NEVER attempt to move downed utility lines or trees touching utility lines.
- When the damage is limited to a few small branches on smaller trees, light pruning is usually all that is needed. Make sure pruning tools are sharpened. Dull edges can cause further damage to the tree.
• Remove loose or loosely attached branches to avoid further injury and decay to the tree.
- Never “top” or hatrack a tree, which means you should never simply cut the entire top of the tree off. This weakens the tree and makes it more susceptible to further injury and disease over time. A violation and fine will be issued for illegal pruning UNLESS you can demonstrate that you pruned the tree due to an emergency situation.
- The following IFAS links provide helpful tips and guidelines for post-store tree care:
Miami Dade County Tree Damage Assessment
Long Term Tree Care?
- Proper mulching, watering, invasive vine removal, and protection from hardscapes and construction will give your trees the best chances against strong storms in the future. Explore our
website to learn how to care for your trees.
- Many damaged trees can be saved with proper post-storm care! The City of Miami Tree Protection Ordinance prohibits the removal of trees without a permit from the Environmental Resources Division, and you will be fined a minimum of $500 for an illegal removal. Please do not remove trees unless they are imminently hazardous or without a professional arborist’s diagnosis of a dead tree. The City of Miami’s
Tree Protection Ordinance is a great resource for further guidance.
- Arborists are professionals with expertise in tree care. When working with arborists or forestry professionals, request proof of certification and/or of membership in professional organizations. A qualified arborist should be an
ISA Certified Arborist (certified through the International Society of Arboriculture).
- Check references for any professionals you hire to assist you with clearing damaged trees.