Monday, December 31, 2018

Balancing shade vs. public safety in hurricane-prone South Florida.

Trees, public safety, and maintaining essential
public services will be a major theme in
this City of Lake Worth in 2019.

Starting off this public education effort will be the upcoming annual Festival of Trees on Saturday, February 16th. If you would like to be part of this year’s festival and help get the word out about hardwood and shade trees click on this link. The Tree Festival will highlight our City’s Electric Utility (hardening of grid and power line safety) and other essential public services such as the delivery of clean water, stormwater drainage, natural gas lines, and emergency services in case of major storms.

The message is simply this:

Trees are important.
But public safety is Priority #1.

The 2018 Hurricane Season is over. And everyone knows the public loves shade trees. However, each year beginning on June 1st begins another Hurricane Season.

So from December 1st to May 31st when no one is thinking about hurricanes and you go out and pick up a new tree have you considered looking overhead for power lines? Find out where your natural gas and water lines are? Is that tree too close to the sidewalk?

Two short quotes, first is one about Hurricane Michael that hit the Florida Panhandle. . .

“We have a lot of trees here,” said Lauren Nash, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, a city that has half of its land mass covered by canopy.
     “In terms of those trees, 100 mph can very easily uproot, break, snap, take down trees. Even healthy trees, that [wind] can knock them down.” [emphasis added]

Excerpt. News by reporter Ashley White at Tallahassee Democrat datelined Oct. 10th, 2018 headlined, “Tallahassee: ‘A city that loves trees’ will be tested by Hurricane Michael, barrage of wind”.

and a quote from last year. . .

“It appeared to me that most of the damage during the recent storm [Hurricane Irma] was done by falling trees and tree branches. But with few exceptions, palms were not the problem. Hardwood trees were.”

Excerpt from letter to editor(s) published in Palm Beach Post, Sept. 23rd, 2017 by Mr. Jack Lippman of Boynton Beach sourced in blog post titled, “Lessons learned: About predictions, frequency and strength of hurricanes every year.”

What follows is more information from a blog post titled, “Lessons learned from Hurricane Irma” posted shortly after that massive storm in September 2017.

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” and from FP&L 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 and vegetation overgrowth. 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 near power lines is key in Hurricane Season. 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 as we await the next “monster storm”:

“[E]lectric lines down and some roads blocked by downed trees. . .”