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How many trees did Florence down in Charlotte? Calls are ‘overwhelming,’ report says

Large downed tree brach takes out power lines and blocks traffic on Sharon Amity Rd. Near Monroe Rd. Sunday
Large downed tree brach takes out power lines and blocks traffic on Sharon Amity Rd. Near Monroe Rd. Sunday dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

By Monday afternoon, the City of Charlotte had received nearly 500 requests for workers to come out and deal with downed trees and limbs from Hurricane Florence, according to data released by the city.

In a report dated 4 p.m. Monday, city officials said they could not determine how many major streets were blocked because of an “overwhelming volume of emergency tree requests.”

Cleanup was well underway on Monday, Charlotte’s first sunny day after the storm caused flooding around the state and killed three people in the Charlotte area.

Five city tree crews were at work by Monday afternoon, along with three contractor tree crews, the 4 p.m. report said. Six more contractor crews were on standby.

But the city had received 456 requests for tree debris removal, the report said, with more coming in all the time.

“Every time we check the data, check the numbers, we’re finding that many have been resolved and many new ones are coming in,” city engineer Mike Davis said. “So we would ask for patience and we would ask that you continue to just be vigilant.”

Davis asked people to call 911 if they see trees down in Charlotte.

Tree crews don’t remove trees if they’re tangled up with downed power lines, based on national safety standards, the city report said. So in some cases, trees will stay where they are until Duke Energy can come out and make sure they’re safe, officials said at a Monday afternoon press conference.

Workers are so busy, Davis said, that trees will sometimes be moved and left out of the way for a while, until someone has time to come and pick them up. In other cases, he said, the debris will be cleared and taken away all in one step.

The 4 p.m. report said five homes, vehicles or other structures were damaged by trees growing in the public right of way, though other structures were damaged by trees on private property. No injuries were reported in connection with public trees, the report said.

The city tries to restore single-lane access on major roads first, the report said, so that first responders can get around. The “next level objective” is restoring access to secondary roads and opening all lanes, including bike paths, sidewalks and driveways, the report said.

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester
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