Historic storm destroyed Omaha’s oldest trees

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Hurricane force winds that blew through the Omaha metro over the weekend were not kind to our trees, especially the older ones.

Hedi Lowe lost a tree in her yard that was more than 80 years old. She will miss the shade it provided in the summer but she’s grateful for the way her old friend went out.

“Very fortunately, it fell away from the house and away from the cars and nobody was under it,” said Hedi.

Things didn’t work out that way for homeowner Tod Nyquist. No one was hurt but the tree that belongs to his neighbor fell on his car and in his yard.

“Everything past our property line, we have to pay to remove and he’s responsible for his side of it,” said Tod.

All of these downed trees mean more work for tree service companies.

John Simpson owns Nebraska Tree and Snow. He says his crew will give emergency calls priority.

“It’s anything that on the house on power lines we get to those things first. Anything that’s an emergency, to try to get people’s power back on or get back inside their house or into their cars,” said Simpson.

Officials with Nebraska Tree and Snow say most likely it will be next week before they will begin cutting up and removing the larger trees after they take care of customers with most urgent needs.

John Fech is with the Douglas Sarpy County Extension Service. He says this storm taught us a lot about having too many weak wooded trees in the same place and we should think about replacing the old trees with a variety of different trees.

“A strong tree, a diverse tree. Something like you don’t already have. If you’ve got a red maple in your yard, pick, put a Kentucky coffee tree. Pick out something different,” said Fech.

For many families losing an old tree can be an emotional experience. A tree was planted a few years ago after this family in Florence moved into their home 44 years ago.

“We’ll have to probably take the whole thing down, just memories watching it grow over the years. Yeah, it’s been here darn near as long as we have,” said homeowner Jan Difhond.

Experts say the best thing to do is plant another tree. Hedi says it’s hard to say goodbye to this one.

“It was just beautiful and now we’re going to have to start over again and plant something that we won’t live to see get that big. But somebody will.”

We have to continue to replace old trees we lose so future generations can enjoy the same view.

Fech says some of the stronger taller replacement trees to think about planting include the hackberry or hickory tree. A couple of short trees on the list include the crabapple or paperbark maple.

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