How to handle fallen trees after a major storm

Hurricane Elsa
Posted at 6:29 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 18:42:59-04

NORFOLK, Va. - With Tropical Storm Elsa on its way to Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina, Dominion Energy's linemen are on the clock.

"The good news is that we're ready. We prepare for things like this all year long," said Legislative Advisor/Sr. Communications Specialist Paula Miller.

Continuing preps Wednesday afternoon, crews readied vehicles for strong winds and rain that could take down trees and limbs.

"Usually when trees land on a power line, we're going to be having to put a lot of wire backup, so we keep a good amount of wire on our truck," said Walter Moore, a lineman for Dominion Energy. "It could be a twig that could lay across [it] and affect the whole power line."

It could also affect your relationship with your neighbor: Who's responsibility is it to remove the tree? How far can branches be cut back? What if the tree root is encroaching on two properties?

"For the most part, insurance covers when there's damage. It's when the tree falls and doesn't damage anything. So, good news - [there's] no property got damaged, but the not-so-good news is that somebody's got a pay to remove it," said John Tarley, managing attorney at Tarley Robinson in Williamsburg.

Tree removal can be expensive if the tree is large enough.

Tarley isn't offering legal advice, but he hopes to clear up some confusion with Virginia's "Tree Law."

"The general Tree Law in Virginia is if the tree limbs of your neighbors tree are hanging over your fence, you can cut them up to your property line," he said.

Tarley has also taken to the internet to answer some questions about Tree Law and neighbors' disputes.

In the event a storm does make a mess across yards, you may want to just talk it out with your neighbor before getting caught up in legal trouble.

Tarley said one time, "A tree on my neighbor's property fell on my land and we split the cost of removing the tree, which is people will find is substantial."

While your eyes are on the ground, Dominion Energy will be watching a little higher up.

Related: Virginia Beach Public Works crews clear out drains, check pump stations ahead of Elsa's arrival

"We're going to also bring in additional resources [and crews] if we need them, so we're prepared [and] ready to go," said Miller. "People should also be prepared with their own personal kits - whether they are first aid kits, they should charge their phones before the storm happens."

In addition to checking the trees near your property line and your neighbor's property line, now's also a good time to make sure your emergency kit is ready and you have Dominion's app to report any power outages.

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