(WSVN) - Trees are beautiful, but planted under power lines, they can be dangerous. The problem: Who has the power to cut the trees down before they rip down the power lines? It’s why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Yudit Hernandez: “All of our orchids, all of our stuff. I hope to make a pool one day.”

Yudit Hernandez has a nice, big backyard — filled with trees.

Yudit Hernandez “I have a mango tree, I have a grapefruit tree, I have a guanabana tree. I don’t know how you say that one in English, though. I just love trees.”

Yudit likes trees, but she’s realistic about where they should be planted. And…

Yudit Hernandez: “My neighbor planted a royal poinciana right underneath the FPL wires, and it has grown into the live wires.”

The royal poinciana is pretty, and it’s pretty clear it’s become a royal pain.

Yudit Hernandez

Yudit Hernandez: “You can already see little parts of the branches that have been burned, just like where it’s touched it in the past.”

You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see what’s coming.

Yudit Hernandez: “And every hurricane season, every time the wind blows, I have to worry about the branches moving the wires and the wires either falling, us not having any electricity, none of my neighbors having any electricity. It’s just a dangerous situation.”

Yudit’s neighbor obviously won’t cut down the tree, so Yudit wants FPL to remove it before it rips down the power lines.

Yudit Hernandez: “I would like the tree out. FPL just needs to get rid of that tree, and I don’t have a problem with her putting a tree under any places that’s not FPL wires.”

Yudit called FPL. They told her they could trim the tree, but royal poincianas grow five feet a year, and Yudit says trimming it won’t solve the problem for long.

Yudit Hernandez: “The tree is going to repeatedly grow back into the wires, no matter what they do, year after year.”

And when that hurricane we’ve dodged for years finally hits, Yudit is convinced this royal poinciana with branches that break easily is going to leave her house in the dark.

Yudit Hernandez: “Please remove the tree. It’s a hazard for everyone.”

Well, Howard, if a tree is under a power line on your neighbor’s property, can you get it cut down?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Probably not. FPL has the right to protect their power lines, and if a tree is under a line, and it can be trimmed without killing it, FPL can only trim it and not cut it down. And there is another option when you have a tree under a power line: FPL can cut it down if the neighbor allows them to.”

I contacted FPL. A spokesman said, “We can’t remove the tree without the permission of the homeowner.”

FPL told me they asked for permission. The homeowner said no.

FPL, though, did go in and cut back the branches near the power lines. Normally they do that about every six years, but FPL said they trimmed this royal poinciana a year ago.

Howard Finkelstein: “Interestingly, if this tree rips down the power lines, the owner of that tree doesn’t have to solely pay for the damage caused by that tree. Instead, the costs are shared by all the customers of FPL, so no incentive there to get the owner to let FPL cut the tree down.”

Yudit Hernandez: “And we are all going to have to be without lights because she refuses to cut down the tree.”

It’s hurricane season again, and Yudit is not happy she couldn’t eliminate this potential problem from her checklist.

Yudit Hernandez: “Very upset, very upset, because it’s going to be an ongoing problem that I am going to have to deal with, because in another two or three months, it’s going to be right back where it was.”

Now, if you have a tree growing into the power lines on your property, FPL told me, contact them and they’ll trim it back. And it’s expensive to cut a tree down. If you have one growing under a power line and want to remove it, ask FPL to do it. If they will, that could save you a lot of money.

Got a problem uprooting your life? Feeling powerless to solve it? Branch out and contact us. Hopefully you’ll be shocked with how electric you’ll feel after we help.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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