Hurricane and Nor'easter Point Up Tree Hazards

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Homeowners are 'Paranoid' About Their Trees

Tree specialists who are backed up with business say that homeowners are so terrified that they are asking to have other looming trees taken down.

"People are very paranoid about their trees," said Betty Stillwell of Arbor Vision tree service in New Egypt, N.J. "Basically they want anything that is going to fall and hit their house taken down."

Bob and Pegi Johnson are taking no chances, knowing that another storm could bring down other large trees with shallow roots growing between the street and the sidewalk.

Their neighbors have already discussed taking down a looming tree, fearing it will come down. After firefighters and police arrived to evacuate the Johnsons, friends took them in and have fed and housed them for two weeks.

Days later when clean-up crews arrived to remove the tree from the roof, the crane was too small. They estimated the oak weighed 10 tons.

Johnson and his wife expect to get insurance coverage, but won't seek help from FEMA, even though they would likely qualify.

"I almost feel guilty with others who have no home -- people who lost everything," he said.

"All in all, the lesson I have learned is that I am grateful to be alive," said his wife, Pegi. "What we gained is appreciation of friends who have gone over and above any expectation to help us out. That is a real eye opener and I know that I, at least, will pay it forward at any opportunity I can."

Her husband agrees his brush with death was "unsettling," and makes them think twice about nature. But, said Bob Johnson, a former science teacher, "It's not the tree's fault."

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