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Triangle Trees Could Fall Victim To Charley

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Trees are a big concern for homeowners during hurricanes. If Hurricane Charley rolls in at its projected strength this weekend, it could bring down trees all over the Triangle area.

The storm could have people reliving the aftermath of Hurricane Fran.

An expert with the State Forestry Service told WRAL that when the soil around here gets saturated, it takes on a loose consistency -- almost as if the trees are sitting in thick pancake batter. Add strong winds and rain from Charley to that mix, and local residents could be in for a long weekend.

Dave Wilson, of Raleigh, knows what that's like. Eight years ago, Hurricane Fran made mulch of a yard that Wilson took great pride in.

The storm mowed down Wilson's lawn and about 80 percent of his house.

"The first tree fell across the bedroom," Wilson said.

The strong winds from Fran sent three huge oak trees slicing through Wilson's roof. He made sure the trees near the house now cannot uproot his life again.

"We don't have trees now that can fall on the house, so to speak," he said. "The trees that were close to the house are all gone."

Fran's destruction proved it is not just hurricane-force winds that can knock down trees. A strong sustained wind of around 40 to 45 miles an hour can cut them down like a chain saw.

Tree-service companies are in high demand after a storm. At least one crew was hired for some preventive maintenance before Charley's arrival. The crew chief said the homeowner probably saved herself thousands of dollars with the threat of Charley lurking.

"She had three or four large broken branches from previous ice storms that were hanging by a thread," said Dana St. Louis, of Jordan Tree Service. "They would have certainly come out with much of a wind."

St. Louis said that people who sustain any tree damage from Charley or its aftermath should watch out for fly-by-night services, people wanting to make a quick buck. He said to make sure the tree service has its arborist certification and make sure it is local and insured.

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