Hurricane sends live oak through roof of Winter Park business

Wind surge rips tree from ground

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Across Orange and Seminole counties, a trail of fallen branches, along with flooding and downed trees, dotted the landscape and  neighborhood streets, following Hurricane Matthew’s Friday morning predawn blast on central Florida.

Wind gusts reaching 60 miles per hour delivered enough power to uproot a live oak in Winter Park thought to be 30 to 50 years old.

The old tree toppled into the roof of a house-turned-office headquarters for an  irrigation company based on South Fairbanks Road.

William J. Loeper of Jesse’s Tree Service in Orlando was surveying neighborhoods in the Orlando-Orange County area Friday when his crew spotted the big oak’s wind-driven crash into the roof, which created enough force to shatter the frame and roof.

A three-man crew spotted the old oak at about 3 p.m., an hour after Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs had announced the storm curfew had been lifted.

“We drove right past this,” Loeper said. “As you can see, the roots are rotted on it — they’re gone, and the wind must have taken it right into the house.”

Loeper said it was the worst damage he had seen so far.

“It’s going be a big job,” Loeper said.

Loeper said the aging oak’s roots “snapped” because of the rot.

Then owner of the irrigation company had not seen the damage yet, said an employee of the business.

Jacobs said overall, damage reports have been far less than the damage sustained during 2004’s Hurricane Charley.

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