An Omaha homeowner is telling the city, “I told you so.” Betty Bauer and Fact Finders helped get leaning utility poles removed behind her home along eroding Cole Creek last fall. She worried then that a tree could be next. Guess what happened a few days ago?
“It came down that way.” No storm brought this tree down near 65th and Hartman. After a sunny, breezy day it just snapped. “It just sounded like an explosion.”
The cottonwood stood on a city right-of-way along the creek. It crashed down on Betty's detached garage, smashing a wall. Tree limbs pierced the garage roof. “Then came right through the hole there,” says daughter Barb Hansen. “If you'd been back in here somebody would have been hurt terrible.”
Betty and Barb say it wasn’t if the tree would fall, but when, and that time came 9:30 p.m. last Sunday. If you look underneath the fallen trunk you see a red X. The homeowner says that means someone should have cut the tree down long ago.
A city tree inspector marked it for removal in 2010, but being along a creek and not a street it was a low priority. “I think the city should be responsible,” says Betty. “It’s on their land, their man was the one that was out here and X’d that tree.”
A parks department crew cleared away the debris and Betty was left with paper. “Submit two to three estimates for the cost." The instructions are for filing a claim with the city for damage to her garage and fence. “Why should I have to do that when they send their people out here to look at it. They can see there's damage.”
The parks department crew cleaning up also trimmed any other trees nearby that might be a hazard. Foresters will walk that stretch of Cole Creek, but neighbors shouldn't expect to hear the sounds of saws anytime soon.
Omaha has 170 dangerous trees close to streets and sidewalks that need to be removed first.