Uprooted trees and scattered debris caused by a violent monsoon that blew through Tucson Sunday afternoon kept some businesses extra busy Monday.
At Raintree Apartments, 6450 E. Golf Links Road, approximately eight trees were lost — some split, some blown over — said the apartment manager, Gina Desisto. On top of that, the property was covered with debris.
“The property has been here for 30 years, so we’re talking huge trees,” Desisto said. “It’s hard to believe the wind was that strong that it took the trees down. I’m surprised the buildings are still here.”
Even though two large pines were leaning against the building and a couple trees were leaning on cars, there was no real property damage, so Desisto doesn’t think there will be an actual insurance claim.
She brought in the landscaping company that regularly maintains the property, Summit Commercial Landscaping, to help clean up the debris, but a tree service would have to be subcontracted to handle the large trees.
Storm damage kept Quality Tree Service, a local family-owned business, busy as well. By 11 a.m., the company already had calls from 22 people wanting estimates, said co-owner Kelly Slachter. “I’m just running around doing the estimates of people who have called.”
Degrees of damage varied, but the worst Slachter saw was a tree that had crushed the side of a house, causing significant damage to a wall.
During busy times such as these, QTS tries to help existing customers first. “But, we take the calls in order of most dangerous to their family,” Slacther said. For example, she said, if somebody’s garage was blocked and they had to get out of the house for work, that would be a priority.
If a tree is already on the ground, Slachter says, consumers can hire a landscaper as opposed to a tree service. “In the industry, there’s a big difference in hiring a landscaper and a tree service,” she said. “If it’s already on the ground, you can hire a landscaper, since it’s not more than 8 to 10 feet off the ground. Our crew goes up off the ground.”
Slachter said people often wonder why the price difference is so large. “A lot of times people will call and say a landscaper came and charged $150 and you guys want to charge $450,” she said. “It’s because the tree- care industry is considered a logger, which is a very dangerous job.”
That means higher insurance fees for the company. “All of our climbers go above ground, so we have to pay higher workers compensation. People think we’re ripping them off, but our insurance is like five times higher than a landscape company.”
Bryan Jackson, owner of Finest Tree Service, said his company was three times busier than on an average day. “I already have a schedule this week,” he said. “But as the storms pass through, I’m having to rearrange my schedule to handle the storm-damage trees.”
The trees are falling over because the ground is wet and “they don’t have a lot of root structure,” Jackson said. “It happens every monsoon season after we get a lot of rain and the ground is wet. The wetter the ground, the stronger the winds and the heavier the trees ...That’s when you see the damage.”
Jackson said during monsoon season, he works 24 hours a day. “A lot of tree services offer 24-hour services to help people. We’re here to help people.”
It can be costly to have a tree removed. Rates at Finest Tree Service are typically $200 per hour. Depending on how big the tree is and how much equipment is used, a tree removal, can cost about $1,000, he said.
But knowing your homeowners insurance policy and taking immediate action can help get costs down.
“Take pictures right away,” said Nick LaFleur, spokesman for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona.
“And contact your insurance company as quickly as possible after the fact, so they can get the process going.”