Toppled trees have caused some huge headaches for families here in Tampa Bay.
In Seminole Heights, a tree fell right through a roof into one family's living room. And in Pasco County, a 100-year-old oak tree landed on several classic cars, flattening them all like pancakes.
But in both cases, the trees came from the neighbor's yards. So who's responsible for the damage?
Stories and conversations like these are playing out all across the Bay Area after Tuesday's severe weather.
The house is Seminole Heights is a prime example. The tree that crushed it was on a neighbor's property. So is that neighbor or their insurance company on the hook to pay up? The answer we got was, "no."
"The act of God, it doesn't really matter.What it really is all about, is what coverage you bought and what damage you have to your own property," said Lynne McChristian, with the Insurance Information Institute. "It doesn't matter whose tree it is."
McChristian explained that homeowners need to check their policies carefully. She's heard a lot of, "coulda, shoulda, woulda," when it comes to being properly insured. Most people are not sure exactly what their coverage actually covers.
"What people have to understand is you never know what's going to happen. You never know when a disaster or some damage might strike, so that's what insurance is for," McChristian said.
In Seminole Heights, Lavon Ellerman said she warned the city and the neighbor next door to do something about a large, rotting tree, but nothing was ever done about it.
"I look at it and I start to cry," she told us, looking at her crushed home, that had only recently been renovated and re-wired. She warns others to look at what old trees are looming over their homes right now.
"If it's diseased, they need to take it down," said Ellerman. "Or they're gonna lose their home just like I did."
"If the tree was damaged and a person was negligent in repairing or cutting down that tree, then, there is a chance that you can recover damages from the other party," McChristian said.
In Dade City, all you could hear at JLP Motorsports was the roar of chainsaws in the wake of damage there early Tuesday morning.
"It was rough," said Jake Simmons, who along with his Uncle Max Bridges, were near tears that day after losing a fleet of classic cars they'd spent years working on and restoring. It happened thanks one large, old oak tree that toppled during the storm.
Buried below that old tree was what used to be a beautiful 1954 Chevy Bel Air Coupe. Its roof is now as low as the tires to the ground. It looked near mint condition only days ago.
"The roof is now below the floor of the car on the ground from where the tree crushed it," said Simmons. "So, there's no repairing that car at all?," we asked. "No, no way to repair it," said Simmons.
"It was my daily driver," lamented Simmons' Uncle Max, referring to his 1968 Ford pick-up.
"I had heart failure over my truck," laughed Bridges. "And didn't even stop to realize it [the tree] had taken the 54' with it."
"I think that with the recent storm we had, it is a wake-up call, to do an inspection of your landscaping, to inspect your roof, to see what your vulnerabilities might be and prepare for the next storm," McChristian said.
So now, McChristian said, is the time to have a certified arborist check any trees you may have questions about.
For information on finding and hiring a certified arborist:
The International Society of Arboriculture's website has a section where you can enter your location and find a list of certified arborists in your area. Follow this link:
From "Trees are Good.com"
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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