Rafael Guerra, 19, was riding his bike down Second Avenue in Gainesville Sunday at about 5:30 p.m. when he noticed a large tree sprawled on the roof of a house.
After he called police, he said firefighters told him the tree’s inside was rotting, which can happen when trees absorb excess water.
“It’s crazy,” the University of Florida chemical engineering sophomore said Monday when he stopped by to check the house on his way to class. “This could happen to other Gainesville residents.”
After storms roiled across the state Sunday, tree branches and debris were scattered along roads and sidewalks. But fallen trees and downed power lines aren’t an uncommon problem in Gainesville, said David McIntire, emergency management coordinator for the city.
“Downed trees, dead branches and underbrush are a part of Gainesville’s status as a tree-friendly city,” he said. “But during extreme weather, they can result in damage to houses or cars.”
“Those items become very dangerous,” McIntire said, adding that residents should have trees on their properties routinely checked when preparing for storms or hurricanes.
Some trees can become saturated with rainwater, which may make it susceptible to rotting, McIntire said. In the same way, dry seasons can make trees more vulnerable to severe weather.
“It’s actually something we see quite often,” McIntire said.
Dave Hoeh, 52, stood on the sidewalk on West University as he watched a pair of two men break down parts of a tree Monday afternoon.
The Orlando resident, who rents the house on which the tree stood on to students, said the tree had been condemned by the city last year. With the severe weather hitting Gainesville, the UF alumnus said he understood why, especially with strong winds coming in, it had to come down.
But he couldn’t help but feel slightly sentimental as he watched chunks of the trunk sawed off, knowing the tree had some history.
“That tree was here quite possibly since the day UF opened,” he said. “It’s sad that it has to go.”
Despite having to take down the tree on orders from the city, Hoeh said he had to pay about $1,800 out of pocket to hire a tree removal team.
City regulations also require that a removed tree be replaced by two, as a way to ease the loss of one, he said.
He’s hoping part of the trunk remains salvageable and possibly getting an artist to carve out a Gator into whatever remains, he said.
Hoeh said he understood how rotting inside of the tree could end up being hazardous, especially for cars driving down West University.
“It’s just mother nature’s way of informing us that everything she makes has an end,” he said. “We get our time to enjoy it.”