Eight tons of Oak crash into Montavilla homes

Find out why nobody expected this grand old tree to split and fall – including the homeowners …

The giant oak, across the street from landmark Beet’s Auto Body, surprised homeowners when it split.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two Montavilla homeowners, on SE 76th Avenue just south of SE Stark Street, made two startling discoveries the morning of May 29.

First, Karen Cherry and Tony Schwally – they live in houses on either side of the tree – said they never thought the mighty oak would fall, having withstood more than a century of storms.

No one was hurt when a section of the tree split off, about 6:15 a.m., and crashed into the two homes. Schwally told reporters he thought it was an earthquake, and that the impact “shook the house”. Cherry said she had been out for a morning walk when the tree limb came crashing down.

Even though the tree is owned by the City of Portland – homeowners say they are stuck with the bill to remove it, when part of it came crashing down.

The other staggering surprise to these homeowners was that even though the century-old oak tree, growing up in the parking strip between the sidewalk and the street officially belongs to the City – it’s totally the homeowners’ responsibility to remove it.

Tree experts at the scene estimated that the giant fallen limb weighs about eight tons, and would have to be removed with a crane to prevent further damage to the homes. The cost estimate: About $10,000 to remove the tree.

After the eight-ton limb is removed, homeowners then will need to repair their homes.

Beyond this, Cherry will need to repair a partially caved-in roof; the other home needs repair to the attic, an upstairs bedroom, and the roof.

“It was a shock to me,” Cherry told reporters. “I had never thought I would outlive that tree.”

The exact age of the tree is unknown; some say it may be as old as 200 years. But arborists agree that it was rot – aggravated by heavy rainfall and wind – that caused the limb to fail.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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