Trees a central victim of Thursday's monstrous wind storm

Published: Saturday, Dec. 3 2011 9:26 p.m. MST

Chris Hansen of Kaysville, cleans up trees caused by wind damage.

Alex Cabrero

FRUIT HEIGHTS  — There's just a hint of pain on Brad Stone's face as he drives visitors through the expanse of the 160-acre Davis Park Golf Course.

Tree after tree, felled by Thursday's monstrous wind storm. Lines upon lines of Colorado spruce. Snapped Littleleaf Lindens. Across the way, the course director and golf pro Brad Stone points to 100-year-old oaks that have had limbs chewed up and spit away on the ground.

In all, 400 trees lost — equating to tons of cleanup work, tons of no longer useful massive trunks and a forever altered landscape.

"The golf course has been completely renovated," said a wistful Steve Lindsey, 18. "I've been playing here since I was 5. I almost grew up here. It won't be the same."

Lindsey was among folks filtering in the pro shop on Saturday, taking a gander at what's been cleaned up so far, and the monumental task left to accomplish.

Stone says 150 trees are now removed and staging locations have been set up in eight areas to drag what remains. It is a job that won't get done in time before snowfall.

"It's almost overwhelming the amount of work that is out there," he said. "It's going to be a long process."

Over at the Oakridge Country Club Golf Course in Farmington, the situation is much the same.

Golf pro Rick Mears says about 400 trees — or 25 percent of their tree stock — have been destroyed by the storm.

Both courses have insurance that will likely help to pay to replace the trees to an extent, but there is no replacing the scenic loss — or a way to make up the time invested in nurturing the trees.

"I don't know how you replace a 60-year-old tree," said Mears. "It's a little hard to place a value on the years of care, the pruning, the fertilizing."

Thursday's storm knocked out thousands and thousand of trees on public and private property from Salt Lake City north to Ogden. Trees crashed into homes, onto cars, a limb fell on a teenage boy critically injuring him, and trees took out power lines.

By Saturday evening, an estimated 400 customers of Rocky Mountain Power were weathering day three of the outage — most of them in Weber and Davis counties.

Spokesman Jeff Hymas said it is slower process to get power back in many of these cases because there may be problems in back yards. In some of the instances, one fix won't restore power to an entire section of homes.

Others, too, are waiting for power to be restored because of a damaged meter that is the homeowner's responsibility and a problem that must be tackled by a licensed electrician.

Information is available at the company's website to guide homeowners.

Lynn Conrad, of Kaysville, said he and his neighbors on Bedford Drive have been attempting to clear debris and repair roofs as the power outages continued into a third day. Some 1,000 homes may be affected.

"They're saying, maybe, in 48 hours, we'll have power. We'll see," Conrad said. "That's the real concern right now, without power, we'll have frozen pipes."

The long process of community and private cleanups continued Saturday in chilling cold and amid a strong wind warning issued by the National Weather Service for Davis County. While it gusted in some places, Saturday's winds were a feeble puff compared to the 102 mph gusts clocked earlier this week.

Cities, with some of the storm's immediacy already cleared away, were left to take stock of damage and do what could be done to help residents. Early estimates put damage in excess of $20 million to both private and public property in Davis County.

Kaysville's Park and Recreation Director Vance Garfield said the city lost 17 of 32 pines planted decades ago along what's called evergreen strip — where the old Bamberger rail line used to be.

The trees were part of a beautification project that was meant to leave a lasting legacy. Now, he says, some of that legacy is forever gone.

"They're irreplaceable because they are so large," he said. "You couldn't get a company to come replant one that size."

Kaysville, a Tree City USA community, lost about three dozen public trees.

If federal emergency money is eventually made available to help repair damaged infrastructure, it cannot go to the cost of replacing publicly-owned trees, according to state emergency officials.

Tree City USA communities or cities that have Arbor Day celebrations may qualify for grants to pay for replacement trees to an extent.

Meridith Perkins, the state's urban and community forestry coordinator, said cities can make use of state and federal funds to help with costs. While such money is not made available privately, she said many cities have tree-planting programs in conjunction with Arbor Day where residents can get a high-quality tree at low cost.

The storm, she conceded, might have soured many residents on the usefulness of trees and instead emphasized the danger can come when are felled by nature.

"It is interesting when we have these kind of events," she said. "It can go either way, with people who are traumatized or negatively impacted by a tree because it has fallen on the house, the car."

Others, she said, mourn the loss of a decades-old tree they may have planted as a sapling — or the community benefit that has been stripped away.

"It's devastating from a whole number of levels," she said. "A lot of trees are benchmarks in the community, areas where people congregate. Those kind of iconic, historic trees — the tangible benefits of the loss of a 100-year-old spruce are hard to calculate when it was a tree that people rallied around as a community."

Rocky Mountain Power's "After an outage" information.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com, Twitter: amyjoi16

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS