Tree service workers have long day after storms

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 | 6:52 p.m. CDT; updated 7:06 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Nelson's Tree Service's crews found themselves busy on Tuesday after late night thunderstorms Monday night left trees and limbs down across the city. The fallen debris caused damage to homes and cars, knocked down or snapped power lines and blocked many streets.

COLUMBIA — Shortly after noon on Tuesday, 11 men from Nelson’s Tree Service worked outside 807 West Blvd. to clear a 75-foot hackberry tree from Scherrie Goettsch’s front yard.

When it fell during the storm late Monday night, it blocked traffic across half of West Boulevard, said Goettsch, who owns the house with husband, Steve Weinberg. The hackberry was moved out of the road at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Goettsch said she did not know who moved the tree.

Goettsch woke up when the power went off and watched from the window as two trees in her backyard toppled over. A corner of the roof was damaged along with the gutters.

"They were whipping and swaying in the wind," she said. "It was bad, really bad."

Nick Murphy, one of Nelson’s groundsmen, has been on the job for a year and knew as soon as the storms hit that he would be busy Tuesday.

"This is the worst I’ve seen so far," Murphy said.

The crew began working at 6:30 a.m., and by the time they reached Goettsch’s yard, they had done five jobs.

While men in the front yard carried logs to the truck to be shredded, three others began working in the backyard.

"Our main priority is getting them off the roofs," Hubbard said.

Although meteorologist Jim Kramper called the storms a normal, summertime thunderstorm complex, the Nelson crew think otherwise.

"There’s nothing normal about this," foreman Billy Hubbard said.

As of about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, the tree service had four trucks and 11 men out taking down trees.

"We’ll put the fire out now, and then we’ll come and clean things up," Hubbard said.

Goettsch, who had just had another tree removed after a storm during Mother's Day weekend, estimated that the cleanup will cost thousands of dollars.

But there is no replacing one 25-year-old tree. "It tore up a pine tree that my daughter and I planted when she was a Girl Scout — a Brownie," Goettsch said.

Still, she had the perspective that comes from having done volunteer work after the 2011 tornado in Joplin. "I know how bad it could have been," she said.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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