Cleanup crews work to clear tree debris in South Florida

DEERFIELD BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - From Miami-Dade and Broward to Palm Beach County, the rain and wind from Hurricane Matthew uprooted trees and created heavy cleanup work for residents.

Small trees, for the most part, in Palm Beach County went down, but 7News spoke to homeowner Jeff Stohsahl, who lived near the scene of a 300-foot ficus tree that was uprooted and left lopsided. His entire yard was engulfed by the tree, but he is OK.

He gets around his yard now by ducking and climbing. “Every storm I’m worried about it, and I wasn’t surprised because it was so many years I could only withstand the hurricane,” he said.

Residents in the area could be seen taking the boards down and opening the shutters from windows. “We missed the worst of it, and we’re trying to get back to normal,” said Alastair Harborna, as he took down shutters. “We’ve still got power, we’ve still got water, so I think we got off pretty lucky.”

Most of the county was left unscathed with the exception of some damage to commercial businesses, malfunctioning traffic lights and high surf.

But Stohsahl’s Delray Beach backyard showed a different sight. “You see, there’s the window right across the back,” he said about the windows covered by tree debris. “You’re looking at one of the trees it took out when it came down. It took out huge coconuts. It took out this tropical almond. It took out other trees. It took out a huge mango tree when it came down, so the power of this thing just took out whatever was in its way.”

One neighbor said that he’s happy the tree didn’t damage his property. “It would have taken all the back of my house down, with the wires and the pole, possibly,” said neighbor Ben Moss.

The cleanup from the overturned tree will not be an easy one. “It’s massive, massive. I don’t think regular chainsaws are gonna cut it,” Moss said.

Stohsahl admits that he needs help. “You would have to have huge front-loaders. I need help from FEMA is what I need,” he said. “There’s not many companies around that can handle something like this.”

Before removing the tree, Stohsahl said he may turn his backyard into a haunted house for Halloween.

Besides trees falling in Palm Beach County, about 30,000 people are still without power. FPL continues to work on the electric problem.

It was a similar scene in Miami Shores after a large ficus tree there also tumbled down. The process to get the giant ficus out of the road was an hours long project.

One branch was cut down at a time by Miami Shores public workers along the 700 block of Northeast 101st Street, Friday.

“It does feel better,” said neighbor Shannon Shaw. “It would have been nice if they had gotten here yesterday afternoon, but I’m sure there was a lot on their minds and nobody knew where the storm would hit and when it would hit.”

Shaw said that she and her daughter Mary made it through Hurricane Matthew just fine.

She and others on the block lost power, but were told that the downed tree isn’t the cause. “I was watching ‘Scooby-Doo Zombies,'” said 5-year-old Micah Shubart, “and then it went out.”

“They planted these trees a long time ago, and one by one, they’re coming down because they’re really a bad kind of tree to plant. They don’t have any roots,” said Curtis Shubart, who lost power.

Parks and Streets supervisor for Village of Miami Shores said that there was not much damage for crews to clean up in this area. “Not that I’ve seen. There’s one other tree over by our field house that fell down. That’s it,” Mike Scofstad said.

The goal in Miami Shores is to clear out the tree debris from the street. Crews are expected to return next week to get rid of the tree roots.

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