Expert: Some storm damage can be easily prevented

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- As severe storms continue to roll through Indiana this summer, an expert says you can help prevent damage by taking simple steps.

Purdue urban forestry specialist Lindsey Purcell suggests hiring a professional to inspect your trees. During storms, trees are to blame for much of the damage to power lines and property. He said a lot of that could be prevented ahead of time.

"Usually when I see trees that failed ... (I think), 'I would’ve predicted that or could’ve seen that coming maybe with a good inspection,'" Purcell said.

You can spot some red flags by looking for dead branches or damage to the trunks of trees. To truly catch bad trees, though, Purcell said you should hire a certified arborist.

"Most tree owners aren’t aware that they are responsible for the safety of others around their trees  and it is really a good idea from a legal standpoint, as well as a safety standpoint, to have somebody come out and inspect your trees," Purcell said.

For this latest round of storms, trees were on the minds of public officials, too. Indianapolis Department of Public Works placed three forestry teams on standby, in case trees went down.

"We are seeing some potential in the overnight hours so we just want to make sure that we’re staying ahead of the game," spokesperson Jennifer Hashem said.

Not every fallen tree can be prevented, though. In the case of a young girl killed at a southern Indiana campsite when a tree fell on her cabin, lightning striking the tree was to blame. Purcell said that in some cases, a storm is too much, and you can't predict a tragic accident.

He did say that inspections are key, though, and he's hoping more people will take the time to do them in order to stay safe.

"Rarely do trees and people cause fatalities but on those rare occasions that they do, then it’s time to re-examine the inspection process," Purcell said.

Purcell also warned that after a storm, many people are ripped off by phony or overeager removal companies.

To find a reputable arborist in your area, go to the link here.

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