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CALGARY – When Calgary couple Elizabeth and Don May opened the front door of their Radisson Heights home on Wednesday morning, they couldn’t make it out the door.
A tree that stood in their yard for decades appears to have been hit by lightning during Tuesday’s vicious hail storm. It split in two, and part of it came down, blocking the door to their home in the city’s southeast.
“Don first noticed this branches at the big front window,” said resident Elizabeth May. “He said, ‘There must be a branch off that tree.’ And well we opened the door…you couldn’t get out the front door.
“With that noise we heard, and the bang…it happened so fast. You have no idea.”
According to city emergency officials, there were 113 tree service requests since Tuesday’s storm, which include downed trees as well as hanging or broken branches.
Arbor Care Tree Service started Wednesday with 18 calls for fallen trees, and staff have been answering calls ever since. Master arborist Codie Anderson visited the May house this morning, and said the discoloration of the bark combined with the way it was peeled away, it was likely struck by lightning.
“The tree that the top half fell down on the house, the remainder we can save,” he said. “It’s going to maintain the look of the landscape…they’ve been here since the house was built.
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Anderson stressed the importance of consulting professionals.
“Just because your tree was damaged, doesn’t mean it has to be cut down,” he said. “But certainly if you have to reach up above your head to cut a branch, that’s an indication you should know what you’re doing and should probably consult a professional. There are numerous complications once trees land on a house and safety is definitely an issue — get some help.”
The city’s Parks department said crews have been clearing roads of debris since Tuesday’s storm hit.
“All crews are at this point busy cleaning up sites and there may be additional pruning that’s required, but we should be able to do that within two days or so,” said Parks spokesperson Nico Bernard during a 1:30 p.m. press conference.
Watch below: Nico Bernard from Calgary’s Parks department updates the city’s tree cleanup.
Bernard said tree debris can be taken to landfills free of charge until Aug. 16. Smaller debris can be put in black bins, or cut up in pieces and placed next to black bins for pickup.
He said Tuesday’s storm was “not a big storm related to trees specifically.”
“I think this storm is totally different from the storm we saw in September,” he said, referring to a freak snowfall dubbed “Snowtember.”
“That was snow load. This was mostly wind and gusts that came by. Most of the damage we’ve seen is leaf droppage as well as a few limbs and a handful of actual trees lost during this event. So the scale is not close to the same as what we had last year.”
Bernard said residents should call 311 if they see branches hanging from city trees, or call an arborist if it’s a private tree.
Watch below: A selection of video from Tuesday’s storm in Calgary.
With files from Heather Yourex