WICKED WINDS: Protect your home from tree damage

Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-13 14:53:59-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va (WTVR) -- Strong wind gusts blew into Central Virginia Wednesday night into Thursday.

In the Brandermill neighborhood, a 50- foot tree came crashing into a family's living room only five minutes after they had left for dinner.

"That's where we would be," said Jeremy Jacobson, a single father with two young daughters.  "The TV is right in front of us; we watch TV before bed; and that's where we would have been."

Powerful wind gusts are said to have caused the tree to come down.

Windy conditions cause tall, old trees to fall, many times damaging homes and cars, if the proper steps are not taken to maintain them, according to arborists.

"The most obvious sign would be dead wood," said Billy Davis, co-owner of Arboscapes.

Davis said tall trees are susceptible to failure when they have thick canopies or weakened root systems.  If you notice dead limbs in the canopy or abnormal humps near a tree's root system, Davis said it could be time to get it checked by a professional.

Pruning branches the normal person would consider twigs can make a big difference to a tree's stability when gusts blow through.

"We're going to be doing things like removing the dead spots in the tree; selectively thinning the canopy out to let some of the wind come through," said Davis.

According to insurance agents, the vast majority of home owners policies cover tree damage, regardless of where it is rooted.  This means that even if a tree in your neighbors yard falls on your home, home owner insurance should cover it.

Insurance agent Mike Fisher said homeowners should take photos of the neighbor’s tree leaning towards their home. Additionally, Fisher recommended sending a certified letter to whoever owns the property asking them to cut the tree down in order to more easily prove liability.