Our country got hit by some extreme weather this year, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose hitting different parts of the country. We have luckily been spared from these storms, but have had to deal with major storms in the past.
The Department of Parks and Recreation has forestry staff, including a tree crew, certified arborists, and we work with other parks and Department of Environmental Services staff to address storm risks. This is an outline of some of the work we do to work with impending storms.
We have over 700,000 trees in the county, with 19,000 of them being along streets, and most of them being near homes and other “targets”, which may be impacted by tree failure.
The Department of Parks and Natural Resources, particularly the Forestry section, works together with other departments, to prepare for the likely tree failure from oncoming storms by:
- Monitoring storm paths
- Preparing staff and equipment
- Working with contractors for assistance beyond our reach
- Setting up communication lines for residents, staff, and emergency responders to report downed trees and other issues
During the storm, we typically:
- Send out rovers to spot issues on our major roads, to make sure critical places such as hospitals and shelters are accessible.
- Take requests from all sources, and map the severity and locations of these requests
- Prioritize requests
- Send out our tree crew and trades staff, and dispatch contractors for tree removals, when it is safe to do work.
- Provide risk assessment, with our ISA-certified foresters, to prioritize removal of standing, but potentially high risk trees.
- Work with state and federal agencies, if needed, when the work becomes too overwhelming for our own resources.
After the storm, our work is rarely done, as many trees are still down, and high risk trees may still be standing. We continue to do the following for months:
- Continue to take requests for tree maintenance, as these requests may lag, or situations change over time.
- Work through our lower-priority work
- Monitor standing tree for residual risk, using Tree Risk Assessment qualified staff
- Assist the Department of Environmental Services, in debris removal
- Start planning for replanting of trees removed during the storm, to mitigate the loss of ecosystem services.
How can you help during or after a storm?
Stay safe, and allow county, state, and utility crews to clear high risk situations
For hazardous or downed trees on the street, or in parks, not involved with utilities, call Parks and Natural Resources at 703-228-6525
Call Dominion Virginia power when power utilities are involved, at 1-866-DOM-HELP (366-4357)