PHOTOS: Local Artist Battles Ice-Covered Trees At Her Burien Home

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Burien-based Artist Maureen Hoffmann had a tough week – she was home sick, AND she suffered damage from the storm(s) to both her home as well as to the trees and bushes in her yard on Maplewild Ave SW.

As anyone who lost power this week will attest, ice-covered trees were not a good thing, as many that fell from the added weight knocked down power lines. Plus, many trees and plants may never fully recover from the damage they suffered from this extraordinary weather event.

Here’s Maureen’s first-hand report, including photos:

I am grateful that my roof was not damaged, nor me, my car or any other more permanent property!

“Mature planting” is what the real estate market calls this kind of full, heavily-shrubbed, wooded locale. It also lends itself to greater damage when snow and freezing rain come along.

I had been holed up here at home for 5 days with snow and a sore throat. Yesterday, a friend picked me up on the snowy roads and took me to lunch, then dropped me back off at home. When I trudged up my driveway, I was stunned. That absolutely lovely Stewartia tree that was at the southwest corner of my house had been rotted at the base and its 5 big trunks split and splayed out like an open hand, with one leader landing on my house. It must have fallen slowly. There was no damage to the roof and only the gutter was dented. I contacted an arborist, who then charged an exorbitant “emergency” fee just to get the tree off my roof. I had to remove the tree and he knew it.

I NEVER imagined that tree would come down! But the snow, coupled with freezing rain and 3/8″ of an ice coating on everything was too much.

My first sight of the Stewartia Koreana tree, lying on my roof and filling my parking area next to my house. Click image to see larger version.

No damage to my roof! Just the gutter was dented. Incredible good fortune. The Stewartia had 5 or 6 big trunks and they splayed and fell all over the yard, crushing rhodies and camellias in their paths. Click image to see larger version.

The power had been out all day, and still was by nightfall, so I came in and made a nice fire and sat there until the power came back on late in the evening.

This morning, I looked out the front window toward the 100 foot high cypress that stood at the roadside at the corner of my parking area and half of it was missing! (I had just commented yesterday to several people how nervous I felt about that tree with its heavy lean toward the wires, telephone pole and street.) Apparently, one main trunk had come down sometime in the night/morning and the city crews had cut it up to clear the road.

This cypress has been leaning heavily for years, but even worse with snow and freezing rain. If it came down, it would take out all the wiring for the whole neighborhood. Click image to see larger version.

The other cypress trunk HAD to come down immediately and it made me nervous as every minute passed while it still stood. With the raw gash on its side where the first trunk had pulled away, it weakened the tree all the more.

A Seattle City Light truck was parked down the street. I walked over, talked to a guy who gave me the main dispatch phone number. They said they’d be out in a couple of hours and would cut the tree down at no charge (!!!) because it was a potential danger to all the lines on the street. After paying the high fee yesterday, I was relieved at the free removal today.

Once they came and removed the cypress, I relaxed. Imminent dangers had been handled. Click image to see larger version.Once they came and removed the cypress, I relaxed. Imminent dangers had been handled

At the north side of my house, what had once been a tall column of yew tree, had been transformed into a Dr. Seuss version of a yew:

Unfortunately, yew does not snap back into shape once it’s been deformed by snow and ice. So my big yew will be cut down to about 4 feet and I’ll let it grow as it wishes.

The beautiful, big rhodie at the bottom of my driveway was also dramatically broken, but salvageable.

Maureen also writes a great blog that’s worth a regular read – check it out here.

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10 Responses to “PHOTOS: Local Artist Battles Ice-Covered Trees At Her Burien Home”
  1. Stephanie G says:

    Is anyone besides me really irritated that the power company came and removed a potentially dangerous tree before restoring power to thousands of us? Priorities, people.

    • Other side of the tracks says:

      well, lets` see, potentially dangerous situation or no power for a bit for a few folks.
      Hmmm, I was one of them affected seems to me they had their priorities right.
      Or would you rather someone get hurt or killed just so you can go hang up your sweater and blow out your candles?

    • Burienite says:

      Hard to ensure power is restored (and stays that way) when there are other trees, branches, etc that could potentially wreck the hard work the crews did to fix the lines.

      It seems their priorities were spot on and mitigating the tree situation prior to line/power restoration.

      • Feral Dog says:

        O.S.O.T.T. and Burienite,
        You 2 are spot on. Good to see not all people in Burien are as self-centered and what about me screw everybody else attitude like Steph.. Sad.
        I like that comment, hang up the sweater and blow out the candles..*lol*

  2. Mark Neuman says:

    Maureen went to lunch … and the tree left the “tip”! (Uh, um, sorry.) Glad you’re okay, Maureen.

  3. Loren says:

    Good point Stephanie, that is what I thought when I saw the picture.
    It did keep the power on for some of our wealthier neighbors, but why when so many are out of power are they doing preventitive maintenance?
    And if there were no City Light customers without power how come they didn’t help with the 200,000 + PSE customers who were in the dark? Some for days now.
    I wish I had a Maplewild address. 🙂
    Jealousy and envy from one of the 99%.

    • Once City Light’s Line crews were freed up and rested (they work 17+ hour shifts during outages) several of the crews were mutual aided to PSE and are still assisting in that outage.

      From the looks of that tree it would have snapped a power pole or two in the process.

      Joey Martinez

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Stephanie, we don’t know the structure of City Light employees. It may be an entirely different skill set (thus entirely different crew) that removes trees then the ones that repair electrical lines. Not to mention we don’t know how many homes would be impacted by proactively taking care of the situation. Also, it is much, much more reasonable in terms of time and cost to you the City Light customer to hop over there and prevent something from happening. Most importantly, this tree which is hanging over the road and could fall on someone walking or driving along. My in laws are without power for the second day but I’m glad City Light took care of this situation in the same neighborhood (roughly) first.

  5. areyouserious says:

    Potential danger is exactly that. Would you rather the tree fall on someone or take out several lines, leaving more without power? There were people on Maplewild without power for a couple of days. My aunt being one of them. I am so sick of hearing about the “99%.” I am by no means well off but I do not begrudge those that are. As well, there are people in the “99%” that don’t want to work and take advantage of benefits. How can you classify those that are underemployed with those that don’t want to work? On a separate note, I was in Fred Meyer on Tue and people were literally yelling at each other over Duraflame logs. If you can’t handle a couple of days without power, you have a problem. The real issue nowdays is that we have become to accustomed to comfort. Generations before were self sufficient ; power or not, they made due.

  6. Treefrog Ted says:

    A number of replies were spot on.
    Seattle City Light does have separate crews that remove ‘danger’ trees and they are separate from the crews that restore the power. When it comes to removing YOUR trees for free, It is US the rate payers pickup the tab – cheapskate!
    Your first clue is that you live on “MAPLE!!wild”. Enjoy your beautiful forested community. Just understand that it comes an occasional inconveinence.
    Consider inviting some of the folks from the apartments off of Ambaum down when it is 80-90 degrees next summer – and it is only 75 with a cool breeze off of the sound at your place.
    When I lived on Maplewild, I had a generator. When the lights went out for more than a few hours I could run it long enough to warm up the place.
    Also…. Thanks for going out to for lunch while you are sick!! Those of us that are not lucky enough to have a sore throat to start with are thankful that you are the ‘sharing’ type!
    The power crews work long hard hours to get your lights on as soon as practical – stop the whining!

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