Maintenance and Repairs

September 7, 2022 Published by London and Area Chapter - By Trish Kaplan, CCI (Hon’s)

Protecting Your Trees

From the CCI Review 2022/2023-1 September 2022 issue of the CCI London Chapter

The storm of May 21st, 2022 was described by meteorologists as a derecho (pronounced deh-REY-cho), a long-lived, fast-moving thunderstorm that causes widespread wind damage. A derecho often has tornado-like or even hurricane-force winds and may produce tornadoes.

This derecho which generated extraordinary straight-line wind damage, was one of the most impactful thunderstorms in Canadian history, winds up to 190 km/h as well as several tornadoes caused widespread and extensive damage along a path that extended for 1,000 kilometres from Michigan through Ontario and Quebec and then to Maine.

Reported in an article in Business Insurance by Aon PLC, it could have one of the costliest insured severed convective storm event on record for Canada’s Insurance Industry based on preliminary estimates. There were power outages to nearly 1 million households and 11 deaths in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec were reported. Maximum wind speeds reaching 190 km/h in south Ottawa were caused by downburst. Large electrical transmission towers were toppled; power poles were knocked down province-wide. Damage to homes and other structures, vehicles and agricultural operations were impacted by the storm.

A survey team from Western University’s The Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP) confirmed on May 27th, 2022 that two tornadoes struck London, during that weekend’s destructive derecho -- bringing the total to three so far -- as thousands remain without power a week later.

The first two tornadoes were short-lived EF-1 touched down in the Huron Heights neighbourhood in the northeast end of the city around 11:36 a.m. It had an estimated maximum wind speed of 160 km/h and travelled a path of 5.7 kilometres with a width of 450 metres. The tornado tore off part of an apartment building roof, flipped a plane and damaged airport hanger doors, and uprooted and snapped numerous healthy trees.

The second EF1 tornado occurred a few minutes later touching down in the Wilton Grove area in south London at 11:39 a.m. It had an estimated maximum wind speed of 185 km/h and went for 3.4 kilometres with a width of 400 metres. Damage left by this twister included the partial wall collapse and roof removal of a warehouse, snapped and uprooted trees, and damage to a large hydro pole. Investigators determined the tornado lost strength almost immediately after hitting the warehouse as there was a lack of damage in the vicinity of the structure.

The third tornado EF2 that caused significant damage was in Uxbridge, Ontario about 55 km northeast of Toronto.

Hydro companies reported the storm did more damage to electrical distribution grids. Power outages also affected many of our communities.

The City of London reported that the extent of the damage was city-wide; but some neighbourhoods experienced more intense tree damage and loss. Londoners shared pictures and videos of the damage on social media.

Many factors were at play, but the essential element was wind, said Michael Petryk, a certified arborist and director of operations at Tree Canada, an Ottawa-based non-profit dedicated to improving the country’s tree canopy.

“Trees are made to flex and to move so they can take a certain amount of wind,” said Petryk. “But when you get sustained, gusty winds like we did Saturday, trees just don’t have a chance to absorb and dissipate that energy.”

He said the storm left behind hurricane-style damage: tree trunks snapped in half, others split down the middle and still others uprooted.

“This kind of storm is just unprecedented in our area so our trees are not necessarily adapted to it,” he said. “Our trees are just not made for sustained, gusty, high, high winds like that.”

The timing of the violent storm also made things worse. Saturday’s storm hit when the trees were full of leaves and seeds, Petryk said, and the ground was wet from spring rains. “Essentially, the soil is so saturated that the trees just pulled out of the soil,” he explained in an interview Tuesday.

Wind and storm

One tree expert indicated that “the problem lies mostly with trees that have been developed around and had roots cut, crushed or town in the process. They may be ensuring decay”

We have heard from owners that “the tree was healthy”. “Trees most at risk are those whose environment changed (say “This kind of storm is just unprecedented in our area so our trees are not necessarily adapted to it,” he said. “Our trees are just not made for sustained, gusty, high, high winds like that.”

The timing of the violent storm also made things worse. Saturday’s storm hit when the trees were full of leaves and seeds, Petryk said, and the ground was wet from spring rains. “Essentially, the soil is so saturated that the trees just pulled out of the soil,” he explained in an interview..

Wind and storm

in the last 5 - 10 years),” Smith says. When trees that were living in the midst of a forest lose the protection of a rim of trees and become stand-alones in new housing lots or become the edge trees of the forest, they are made more vulnerable to strong weather elements such as wind.

Identify Tree Root Rot – symptoms: Root rot is a disease that attacks the roots of trees growing in wet or damp soil. This decaying disease can cut the life short of just about any type of tree or plant and has symptoms similar to other diseases and pest problems, like poor growth, wilted leaves, early leaf drop, branch dieback, and eventual death.

There are two causes for root rot, but the main cause is poorly drained or overwatered soils. These soggy conditions prevent roots from absorbing all the oxygen they require to live. As the oxygen-starved roots die and decay, their rot can spread to healthier roots, even if the soggy conditions have been rectified.

  1. Poor growth.
  2. has recently Wilted or brown leaves.
  3. Smaller than normal leaves.
  4. Weak and decaying branches.
  5. Thinner canopy.

Tree care, maintenance and assessment

As the number of storms escalate, so too does the damage that can be caused. Safety options should be explored carefully, not only to protect our residents but also the corporation’s assets. Our trees are important in our community for many reasons, including the curb appeal and shading. It is appropriate to reach out to those who are experts in the tree business in order to provide risk management and to have a support system in place to address the health of them.. Perhaps too, we must look to the kind of replacement tree that will best serve the community in light of the more frequent wind and storms.

While we can appreciate the tree planting, when the trees are small, in a new development, it has often been said that the size that the tree will be is not conducive in the space it has been planted in. Your certified arborist can be a special friend on your property – the care, health and maintenance of your trees are important.

Remember, there are Tree Protection By-laws in most communities. Condominiums are not exempt from following the by-law that requires property owners to apply and obtain a permit before removing a Distinctive Tree (by definition) or any trees located within a Tree Protection Area. Trees within the Condominium Community are privately owned. Check out the City of London website for more on trees and the procedures required in London before proceeding with removal of any tree. This by-law came into effect March 1, 2021.

Safety – what’s your plan?

We have no control over what type and when an emergency can strike. Being prepared for almost every eventuality with your own family’s safety plan is a bonus. Encourage every member of your family to participate in the update so that everyone in your household is familiar with it. Being prepared will go a very long way toward your safety.

The City of London has a thorough Emergency Management Program in place to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from an emergency. Here you can find recommendations as well as checklists and be able to signup for Alert London Notification Systems.

There is one thing that a disaster does do – it brings people together. Neighbours helping each other get through the trauma. And it reminds us all to make safety and preparedness in our homes and in our communities a priority.

Trish Kaplan, CCI (Hon’s) is the current part-time Administrator for the chapter; having served in the position from April 2003 to September 2010. She received the CCI Distinguished Service Award from CCI National in November 2006. Trish served as a director on the chapter board from 2010-2015 and was subsequently returned to the position of Administrator.

Trish is a condominium owner, served as a director of the corporation she resides in for a time and is a retired condominium manager.

Her experience in the different areas of condominium continues to be a benefit to the chapter and its members.


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