Tree, weakened by weather, hits home

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – A Henrico family had some scary moments Wednesday when a massive tree came crashing onto a home while two people were inside.  Amazingly, no one was hurt.  Henrico Fire officials said more trees could come tumbling down in the next few days.  They've been weakened by Hurricane Irene and the consistent rain isn't helping.

It was several stories high and probably hundreds of years old. The sounds and feelings as the massive tree crashed onto her Homeview Drive house brought Shaline Midence back to her California days.

"We're used to earthquakes and the earth shaking," she said.  "It was a horrible noise. You know, the house start shaking; everything it was just so fast."

She grabbed her mother and ran out of the house as she feared the tree's demise would bring about her own.

"My God," she exclaimed.  "I would not be here.  I could have died."

The root system had become completely saturated.  We're told it started to lean years ago when Isabel blew through. The guys now taking care of the damage say once a tree tilts 20 degrees, you've got a problem.

Henrico Chief Fire Marshal David Seay met NBC12 while crews sawed through the debris. He said more rain in the forecast spells trouble.

"Whenever you have a severe weather event like a hurricane or an ice storm in the winter time or a tornado, you see that the trees may get weakened," he explained.

Now is the time to protect your home and loved ones using these tips.  Look out for weak spots where the tree stump or branches fork.  Note any changes in the roots and examine what's popping out that might not have been before the rain. Trim any heavy limbs that could cause leaning.

"If it's predictable then it's preventable," Seay said.

A lot of times we leave our homes and pass the same trees every day. Fire officials want you to take some time in the daylight hours to look around your yard. If you notice any changes, call a tree service to check it out. You'd rather have them at your house than the fire department.

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