No matter which direction you drive, you will most likely pass a tree that has been destroyed by Saturday’s storm. Cleaning up the mess will take time, but in some cases, it needs to be done carefully.
In the Rideauview neighbourhood, Bob Couturier is having his tree removed before any more damage can be done.
“The winds and rain were so heavy, it blew this tree right over the fence,” says Couturier. “If the fence gave way, it’s going to take down the eavestroughing and take out our back windows.”
Trees are down across the capital, which means arborists in Ottawa are working non-stop.
Urban Tree Works owner Ian Lawford is a certified arborist. He’s been taking dozens of calls every day since the storm hit.
“It was already very busy. This is the busiest time of year,” says Lawford. “My priority is just to mitigate hazards. Dismantle things. Get things safe.”
With the amount of destruction, he says Ottawa's canopy and landscape could look different for the next generation.
“It will be changed,” says Lawford. “You’ll see evidence of this storm for decades. Just like the ice storm.”
Another tree, in Ryan Dehaas’s backyard in Bells Corners, is also on the brink of failing.
“I’ve just been staring at it the whole day making sure. We went over to move stuff out of the way because if it fell there would be glass everywhere,” says Dehaas.
Like a tree surgeon, Lawford starts from the top and works his way down. Meticulously removing limbs and eliminating risk.
Even though hundreds of trees are down in Ottawa right now, Lawford says some of it could have been avoided if trees were assessed and maintained properly and early action was taken.
“That could have been prevented, or at least mitigated if it had support using cables and braces,” says Lawford. “I’ve gone around and looked at all the trees that I’ve supported in the past few years. And from what I can see, none of them have failed as a result of that poor structure.”
The storm cleanup will most likely take weeks, but that's a relatively short period compared to how long it will take to bring back the old growth that attracted many homeowners to neighbourhoods in the first place.