AUSTIN (KXAN) — While the Winter Storm Warning officially ended at 10 a.m. Thursday, the road to recovery is just beginning for many Central Texans — with some key help from arborists and tree-trimming services.
Austin-based Angel’s Tree Service was already out in Georgetown early this morning responding to requests for help. Co-owner Carlos Zarate told KXAN that he estimates his business has received roughly 200 service calls Wednesday and Thursday alone.
Evan Peter, the owner of Happy Tree Service of Austin, told KXAN they’re soliciting more requests than they can respond to, adding they’ve been forced to prioritize the most urgent requests and existing customers.
“The scale is so overwhelming,” Peter said.
Downed trees, branches and other vegetative debris are some of the main culprits behind this week’s ice storm and power outages. Just half an inch of ice amounts to about 500 pounds of added weight on power lines, causing them to sag and, sometimes, collapse.
That same ice accumulation on trees also means heavier branches, which can add an extra layer of complication to the cleanup process, Zarate said.
“We need to [leave the limbs out after they’re cut] because right now, they’re very heavy. They’ve gotten two or three times heavier because of the ice,” Zarate added. “And we’re waiting for it to melt in order to just pick them up.”
Zarate and his crews always wear helmets for protection while working on tree disposal services. He urged others to do the same due to the damages trees have succumbed to from the ice accumulation.
“This is one of the most riskiest times we’ve ever worked,” he added.
Peter said he encourages people to remain calm and not panic if there is a downed tree on their property. He also cautioned residents to be wary of door-to-door service solicitors, who might not be legitimate providers.
He recommended prospective customers only request services from certified arborists, as well as those with verifiable worker’s compensation and general liability coverage. The Texas Department of Insurance can help verify those certifications, he added.
Beyond local businesses, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson tweeted Thursday that Austin Resource Recovery customers can call 311 to request the removal of downed tree branches and other debris.
“Crews will assess and collect them as soon as possible,” Watson tweeted in part. “Customers are asked to have the limbs at the curb, ready for collection.”