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Derecho May Have Saved Falls Church During Sandy

Homeowners should have their trees evaluated every five-years or after a big weather event.

When the Derecho blew through Falls Church in late June, it knocked down power lines and uprooted or snapped trees in its path.

Frank Bellavia, spokesman for the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department, said that storm cleared out some of the weaker trees. Bellavia didn’t have the exact numbers available, but said there were fewer calls for trees on homes and in the roadways.

“I think that storm was powerful and so quick that all the weak ones went,” said Bellavia who said the volunteer department responded to 50 calls during Hurricane Sandy, mostly for downed wires and trees. “That’s why we didn’t have too many calls for downed trees this time around.”

As Hurricane Sandy moved through Northern Virginia, the storm dumped heavy rains and brought high winds. Ben Thompson, arborist for the City of Falls Church, said there were about seven trees that fell in the public right of way in the city during Hurricane Sandy. Thompson said the city does not track fallen trees on private property.

To make sure trees are in good condition, Thompson suggests people with trees in their yards have them evaluated every five-years or after a major weather event. In the city, there are few trees that older than 100 years, Thompson said.

“Older trees, or trees known to be in decline should be evaluated more frequently to detect changes in their condition,” Thompson said. “Tree pruning can be done on a similar schedule to improve tree structure, provide clearance over driveways and roof lines and mitigate tree risks.”

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