Too late to trim trees?

Tree trimmers swamped before Hurricane Matthew

Chris Rauscher, manager at Advance Tree Pros, took 147 calls Tuesday.

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"People saying we need our trees trimmed," said Rauscher. "People wait too long and we can't get to them. We're gearing up for the storm ourselves and heading to the hardest hit areas."

Besides cutting down as many last-minute dead trees and limbs as they could get to, the team at Advance Tree Pros in Winter Park spent Tuesday checking chainsaws, repairing a giant claw truck, and hauling debris to the dump to make room on their lot.

They will take their cranes, dump trucks, flatbeds, portable lights, and chainsaws to the coast to be in place for when Hurricane Matthew marches through.

Until then, they'll get to as many calls for tree trimming as they can.

"They're kinda out of luck with the storm hitting soon," said Rauscher. "They want their trees thinned out but they've waited until the storm happens."

Rauscher, however, says there is hope if you're looking to get that looming limb away from your roof - he recommends calling around to see if another tree trimmer could at least cut off the limb or chop down the tree and leave it on the ground until after the storm.

He warns, though - do not stand under trees after the storm has passed because branches may have fallen in between the tree and may have become entangled in the branches.

"Make sure you're not underneath the tree when the storm passes- that's what we call widow makers, could fall at any time," said Rauscher. "This is no joke. There's a lot of weight. That'll crush a house."

Cities and counties across Central Florida tell News 6 they continue to trim trees before the storm but insist they've been maintaining trees close to power lines year round.

Emergency managers warn not to pile yard debris at the curb if your weekly pickup does not occur before the storm. Branches can become missiles, they said.

The last time trees were tested with strong, sustained winds and unrelenting rain was in 2004 when hurricanes Charley, Francis, and Jeanne roared through Central Florida, knocking down trees everywhere and knocking out power for days. That means trees may now be weak, rotting, or overgrown and prime for falling if severe weather occurs, said Raucher.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.