At 6 a.m., David Black heard the first tree branches fall. He got dressed and went out on the back porch of his Wilmore neighborhood home to investigate. More branches fell.
“Three seconds later, it was coming down,” Black said.
The trunk of the large tree fell between two homes in the 1800 block of Merriman Avenue – just north of West Boulevard – Friday morning.
Massive branches severely damaged the two homes on either side, cutting power and rendering the structures unsafe in the eyes of Charlotte inspectors. One house sustained damage to its bedrooms, hallway and roof, Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Jackie Gilmore said. The other house had only roof damage.
No one was injured, but two families – six adults, four children, two dogs and two turtles – were displaced
The American Red Cross said its volunteer disaster action team is assisting the families.
Charlotte’s struggling trees
It’s unclear what caused the tree to fall. The soil was not a factor, Gilmore said, but recent rains may have played a role.
The health of Charlotte’s tree canopy has long been a concern for the city. More than half of trees the city maintains in its historic neighborhoods, including Wilmore, are in fair or poor health.
According to city data analyzed by the Observer, only 45 percent of Wilmore’s trees are in good or excellent health.
That actually ranks the neighborhood’s trees as healthier than in adjacent areas. The Clanton Park neighborhood south of Wilmore has only 30 percent of its trees in good or excellent health. Sedgefield, to the southeast, stands at 17 percent in good or excellent health.
Dilworth, north of the neighborhood, has 33 percent of its trees in good or excellent health.
Staff writer Joe Marusak contributed.