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Rash of storms bring down trees, create sinkholes in DeKalb

A fallen tree lays in the front yard of a home on Rockbridge Road in Clarkston. Photo by Carla Parker


Severe thunderstorms and rainy weather have consistently hit DeKalb County seemingly every day since June 1, causing trees and branches to fall and sinkholes to form.

According to Georgia Power, which has two service stations in DeKalb, there have been 475 events of trees or limbs that have fallen on power lines in the DeKalb service area since June 1 due to bad weather. The Tucker station reported 231 events and the Minola station, which also covers east Atlanta in Fulton County, reported 244 events.

According to DeKalb Public Works public outreach manager Burke Brennan, DeKalb County has had 260 tree pickups since June 1. Brennan said there are many factors that have caused the trees to fall.

“Certainly, there may have been a couple that came down by lightning,” he said. “Most of the trees are either dead or the soil got so saturated that the root system was incapable of holding it in place and it just falls over.

“When a branch of a tree falls a lot of times it’s because of the wind,” he added.

In DeKalb County, there are different procedures for homeowners to follow when it comes to removing a fallen tree from their property or from the road. In one instance, if a tree falls onto a power line and lands in the road Georgia Power must come in first and clear the power line, Brennan said.

“After the power line is removed we come in and clear the tree,” Brennan said. “If the tree is in the right of way, [the homeowner] needs to call us and let us know about it so we can assess it and take care of it with the appropriate action.”

If homeowners have concerns about a tree on their property that could possibly fall in the future the homeowner must call in a specialist to cut down the tree.

“We don’t cut down trees on private property,” Brennan said.

Brennan also said the rash of storms has delayed the pickup of trees.

“It’s been more time-consuming moving the trees out of the roads,” he said. “We have some special equipment to cut it up and it takes time. But we’re just about caught up.”

Homeowners who have removed trees themselves and stacked it at the curve must arrange a special pickup.

“If it’s a large pile we have to have a machine with a boom arm come in and pick it up and that’s going to require a special pickup and they can call sanitation for that,” Brennan said. “And depending on the volume there may be a charge.”

In the case of a sinkhole, if it is a sinkhole that is on county property and caused by a county infrastructure deficiency, the county will take care of it. A recent sinkhole in Stone Mountain was caused by the collapse of a county storm drain.

“That’s our storm drain,” Brennan said. “We put it there and we maintain it. Sometimes sinkholes are caused by other things such as a contractor 25 years ago buried garbage in the backyard and the garbage deteriorates and forms a sink hole.”


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One Comment

  1. Robby Astrove says:

    “If homeowners have concerns about a tree on their property that could possibly fall in the future the homeowner must call in a specialist to cut down the tree.”….. Hmmmmm,..MUST???

    How about an assessment first. Otherwise this knee jerk reaction will result in severe canopy loss which reduces environmental, social, and economic services trees provide for free…..

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