Tree-trimming crew tries to minimize potential damage from Florence

September 12, 2018

Before Hurricane Florence makes landfall later this week, tree-trimming crews hopped from job to job across the Triangle on Tuesday, trying to eliminate as many potential hazards as possible.

Tim Robbins and his crew from Arbormax felled some 100-foot-tall trees, using cranes to lower them to the ground safely.

“It’s a different feeling. We call it ‘hurricane mode,’” said Robbins, who ticked off the list of storms he’s responded to.

“Andrew, Fran, Floyd, Isabelle, Irene, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Matthew,” he said. “I think that this is going to be as bad as any of them.”

Arbormax normally gets 30 to 40 calls a day, but Robbins said it’s been getting more than 100 calls a day right now as people seek to prevent trees from hitting their homes.

“Every hurricane I go to, I see at least 20 jobs where there’s a big beautiful oak tree blown down, and right standing strong as can be, there’s a dead tree just standing right next to it,” he said. “That’s because there’s no leaves on the dead trees to catch the wind.”

Noting a tree’s canopy “acts like a sail,” trimming branches or taking down trees beforehand is akin to lowering the sail or even cutting down the mast.

Robbins said he’s seen trees toppled by storms that have killed people.

“We see the worst of the worst,” he said. “You never want to see the bad stuff.”

The busy schedule will likely only intensify after Florence passes, when Robbins said his crew will be pulling downed trees off houses.

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