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Warwick mayor: It would be impossible to inspect every tree

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — One day after a tree likely damaged in a storm earlier this month crashed down on cars waiting at a stoplight, Eyewitness News asked Mayor Scott Avedisian what can be done to prevent another accident.

“It would be virtually impossible to inspect every tree in the city of Warwick,” the mayor said. The tree that fell Monday was one of many damaged by the Aug. 4 macroburst that took down trees, limbs and utility poles.

Two weeks later, a tree on the corner of West Shore Road and Main Avenue fell onto cars, temporarily trapping four people. The Assistant Fire Chief said it was likely the tree was damaged by the storm. Mayor Avedisian pointed out the tree was on private property.

“We’re not going to go onto private property and demand that trees be removed,” he explained.

Still, Avedisian says Public Works crews are making the rounds, checking the neighborhoods with older tree canopies and areas where the public, especially children, congregate.

“We did some work with the Boys & Girls Club…to see if the trees are safe while kids are playing on the field,” Avedisian said.

Homeowners with precarious trees on their property can call the City of Warwick’s arborist, who will provide a free inspection of trees on the property. The arborist can recommend if any dead limbs or “hangers”–the name for broken limbs tangled in a tree, dangling dangerously–need to be cut down.

Mayor Avedisian says if property owners aren’t taking care of storm-damaged trees, Monday’s scary situation could be repeated.

“I assume we’re going to see more of these accidents where trees are going to magically fall,” he said.

The mayor also answered the question many homeowners have asked about fallen trees that cross property lines–for example, if a city-owned tree falls on your house or lawn. Mayor Avedisian says homeowners need to go through their insurance for damage cleanup, after which the insurance company has the option to go after the city for the money.

The City of Warwick has spent more than $250,000 on tree and debris cleanup from the storm, about $50,000 over the Department of Public Works budget. The Mayor says if federal disaster relief funding comes through, that could cover some of the costs. Residents and businesses would also have the option to apply for federal funding.


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