Tree killed by Dutch elm disease wreaks havoc on North End neighbours
Storm knocked out power next door; now homeowner wants to know how long until it's removed
Wind and snow broke huge pieces off the trunk of a dead elm tree in front of a home on Alfred Avenue on Thursday, knocking out power to a neighbour's home.
Jenn Kess says the tree on the boulevard in front of her house was marked for removal due to Dutch elm disease years ago, and she has called the city several times about it over the past year.
"The weight of the snow that came down brought all these branches down. I am scared. It is hanging right over the wires, and it has been dead for so long," said Kess, who estimates the tree died two years ago.
She said the fire department came to remove the branches that fell Thursday morning.
A Manitoba Hydro crew was called to cut the exposed power line, leaving neighbour Derek Kindzierski without power.
"I thought I had been hit by lighting, seriously. There was a giant blue flame where it hit the fence. I jumped," said Kindzierski.
"It scares me that it is hanging over my house. It looks like it is threatening to fall on my house or going to be crashing down on somebody walking by. There's lots of kids around here, lots of elderly people," Kess said.
She says the city told her the dead elm is considered a high priority, but she wasn't given a specific date for its removal.
At last count in September, 8,321 trees with Dutch elm disease had been marked for removal, including more than 800 identified in 2016 or even 2015. According to the city, it's the largest backlog of trees to be removed since the mid-1990s.
- More elms marked for death right now than have been in Winnipeg for 20 years
- Winnipeg's urban forest a monoculture at risk of being wiped out by disease
"They said maybe by mid-November, but I'm afraid a lot more damage could happen by then," Kess said.
It's not the first time property has been damaged by the dead tree. A huge chunk fell on Kess's friend's car in the summer. Kess says her friend filed an MPI claim for $7,000 in damages.
She wonders whether where she lives is a factor in the lack of action.
"I know the city is overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done," she said. "I get that.
"But a tree that is in this bad shape and rotted for so many years — I find it hard to believe that this would be allowed to be like this or left like this in another neighbourhood. It doesn't seem fair that a tree that has been marked for that long and so dead and slowly falling apart for so long and just left here — it's dangerous."
"There are numerous overhead wires situated in the crown of the tree, which requires Hydro assistance to facilitate the removal. We are currently working with Manitoba Hydro to prioritize this removal," the statement said.
Manitoba Hydro said while it has ensured the area is safe by removing downed power lines, Kindzierski has to pay for the repairs.
According to Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen, "in situations where a tree falls on a line and damages the service mast, the customer/homeowner is responsible. This includes contacting a licensed electrician to repair the mast [reattach it to the home] and inspection by the City of Winnipeg. Manitoba Hydro's role is to restore service once that inspection is done. "
"The city doesn't care about poor people. [Neither] does Hydro. I am sitting in my house with no heat, no power. I don't have $1,100 to pay an electrician," he said.