Saturday, September 23, 2017

Trees, vegetation, and unsafe structures: Public education and getting ready for the next “monster storm”.

Below is a blog post titled, “Lessons learned from Hurricane Irma” posted shortly after the storm. Since then is more very timely and important information:

Use this link for a MUST READ article by Post reporter Susan Salisbury titled, “After Irma: Why planting the right tree in the right place matters”. This would be great information to present at our City of Lake Worth Tree Board meeting scheduled for October 12th:

Tree Board establishes policy and provides standards within the City Landscape Ordinance for tree preservation. Policy includes educational materials (proper planting, pruning, and insect and disease control), permit guidelines, and City tree sale program.

and. . .

Meeting schedule: Second Thursday of each month at 5:30, City Hall Conference Room. The staff liaison is David McGrew, the City’s Horticulturist: 561-586-1677; email:

From the article by Susan Salisbury is a link to Right Tree Right Place, about “Trees and Power Lines”: 

  • Find the right tree. “Before selecting your tree, make sure you know how tall, wide and deep it will be at maturity, and whether it’s a problem tree.
  • Choose the right spot. “At maturity, will your trees’ canopy reach the overhead lines?
  • Work safely. “Whether you’re planting a tree, preparing your property for storm season or picking fruit, remember to stay safe and stay far away from power lines at all times.

Without further ado: Lessons learned from Hurricane Irma.

Preparing for the next hurricane or major
storm in the City of Lake Worth and elsewhere
in central PBC.

Some of the big issues post-Hurricane Irma were trees too close to power lines on private property, vegetation (overgrowth), mobile homes, and other unsafe structures such as shipping containers. All of these issues need to be looked at thoroughly in the wake of Irma.

Below are excerpts from two articles in The Palm Beach Post, one by reporters Julius Whigham II and Sarah Peters and the other by Jane Musgrave.

Residential tree trimming and vegetation removal will be key preparing for the next hurricane. This is something the City of Lake Worth’s Tree Board may be up to taking on, possibly in combination with the upcoming Tree Festival, or maybe the City’s Public Services Dept. can create its own education campaign.

Below are excerpts from an article titled, “Downed tree limbs, not destroyed structures, marks Irma’s passage” by Post reporter Musgrave:

     Power remains out for roughly 500,000 county residents and another 3 million customers in Florida Power & Light’s 35-county coverage area.
     With some traffic lights still out at some intersections, electric lines down and some roads blocked by downed trees, [emphasis added] county officials ordered a curfew from dawn to dusk.

and. . .

     Likewise, tree limbs homeowners are dragging to the street won’t disappear anytime soon. Trucks operated by haulers who are expected to flood in from out of state have to be certified to collect the debris, said Willie Puz, a spokesman for the county’s Solid Waste Authority.
     Trucks will begin picking up yard waste on Thursday but it could take weeks before the mountains of vegetation disappears, he said. This past year’s near hit by Hurricane Matthew generated a whopping 95,000 cubic yards of garbage and yard trash — an amount likely to be far eclipsed by Irma, he said.

On the issue of mobile homes, a lot of people are surprised to learn there are still mobile home communities here in the City of Lake Worth. You’ll find them along Boutwell Rd. in the Park of Commerce. Every now and then these mobile home residents show up in news reports and the TV news vans show up too. It really is quite the scene.

However, these mobile home communities are a relic of the past and one by one go by the wayside to make way for homes, apartments, and condominiums subject to the latest updated building codes.

On this topic is a news article titled, “Hurricane Irma: Mobile-home park residents board up, seek safer ground” by reporters Peters and Whigham, an excerpt:

     At the Long Lake Village Mobile Home Park in suburban West Palm Beach, several homes were boarded up. Marty Jackson, one of its residents, said he is planning to stay with his daughter at her Boynton Beach condo.
     “You pretty much have to (evacuate) living in a mobile home,” he said. “I did stay one year and I said, ‘Hmm. After that I’ll leave.’ If you listen to all the hype, it’s going to be bad, but I’ve been here all my life and came through every one that came through.”
     At The Meadows in Palm Beach Gardens, a young man was debating whether to ride out the hurricane in a mobile home he renovated and moved into in December. The home is on a lake, which was mostly drained, but close to the Intracoastal Waterway, he said. His other option is a friend’s house in Jupiter.
     He decided to forgo shutters or plywood because Home Depot was out of stock, and he figured that would do little to protect the house, especially if the hurricane takes the roof off.

Lastly, on the issue of shipping containers. . .

“Perhaps this could be replicated here in Lake Worth? Let people live in shipping containers?”

There’s just one problem, as was first pointed out on this blog in 2015, a blog post titled, “Airbnb, eco-tourism, hipster cred, and shipping containers”:

Before you get all excited check the zoning code first before diving ahead. More likely than not this type of structure is prohibited where you live. For instance, you couldn't build this in Lake Worth or most other cities in the County.

No one is going to get approval to live in a shipping container here in a coastal city in Palm Beach County, especially after Hurricane Irma.

Now about all those trees and mobile homes. . .