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Though Soils Not Saturated, Trees Still Vulnerable In Storm

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Many area residents know from personal experience that hurricanes do not just cause storm surges and rain. They bring down trees -- lots of them.

The sounds of chain saws and wood chippers are familiar to those who have witnessed the power of recent hurricanes. As Hurricane Isabel churns toward the N.C. coast, many people expect to be hearing those sounds again.

Despite Isabel's path toward North Carolina, there is good news, according to North Carolina State University forestry specialist Robert Bardon.

Bardon said that, unlike when Hurricane Fran hit, soils are not saturated, which could make it harder to a tree to come down in a storm.

Nevertheless, big hardwood trees are still vulnerable.

"They've still got a lot of leaves on them," Bardon said. "We really haven't moved into the fall, so the trees are not dropping leaves., and it acts just like a sail."

Whether it is tree trimming or removing dead limbs, Pete Jordan, owner of a local tree service, has plenty of work to do before the storm. A lot of people call him to take their trees down before the storm hits.

"For the past two weeks, we've been getting those calls," Jordan said. "People who want us out there ASAP to do something that they should not be doing."

Jordan said year-round maintenance is the best way to keep your trees upright; that way, you're not making a rushed decision.

So, if Isabel does hit, trees are damaged in your yard, and you need a tree service quickly, what should you know?

First, do not pay for the service up front. Second, make sure you ask the workers for proof of insurance. The property owner could be held liable if a worker is hurt on the property and does not have insurance.

One other interesting note is that if you do lose trees, document it. Believe it or not, you may be able to deduct the losses from your taxes.

North Carolina State also has

a Web page of useful information about tree damage.

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