P.E.I. residents worried leaning trees and Fiona debris could cause more damage

Benny Byers thinks Maritime Electric should be doing more to remove trees that could possibly fall on power lines and cause outages.  (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Benny Byers thinks Maritime Electric should be doing more to remove trees that could possibly fall on power lines and cause outages. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Benny Byers is worried about the trees in his yard in Belle River, P.E.I., that were damaged by post-topical storm Fiona.

The trees are leaning near his electrical wires, and Byers said that every time the wind blows, he worries he'll lose power again.

During Fiona, Byers lost power for nine days.

He said a Maritime Electric crew came with a small boom truck and took down the trees that were leaning on the wires. But he feels they should have come back with a bigger truck to take down the other trees that are leaning.

"I want them out of there. I want them cut down so I can fell the rest of it and cut it up for firewood so it don't go down on my power line," Byers said.

CBC
CBC

"If a wind comes, you know what's going to happen. They're going to come down on these lines and they'll be a few days before [crews] come out and hook me up again."

Byers said he hasn't reached out to Maritime Electric about his concerns.

'It's not over'

But his neighbour Wendy Jones is looking for help.

"That huge tree snapped and fell into my yard," she said. "I don't know how to deal with it and I don't have thousands of dollars to hire somebody to come and clean it up."

CBC
CBC

Jones said her main worry is that a tree falls on her house or shed — or even hurts a person.

She sent a letter to Barb Ramsay, minister of social development and seniors, and to Housing Minister Rob Lantz outlining her concerns.

Jones hasn't heard back from the MLAs, but she did call Access P.E.I. to see if they could offer assistance. She said they told her many Islanders have called looking for help with trees, but that the service couldn't offer any.

Submitted by Wendy Jones
Submitted by Wendy Jones

"They need somebody who's an expert to plan and allocate funds so that this problem can be dealt with over the next few years, not just put behind them as if it's over with — because it's not over," she said.

If we have a fire, it's going to be incredibly dangerous - Wendy Jones

"If we have a fire, it's going to be incredibly dangerous. The costs are going to be way higher than getting the trees cleaned up and looking after things before something like that happens."

In a statement, the province said it is working through the remaining private property tree clearing requests from the fall.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

The government said 335 properties remain out of the 6,100 that requested assistance.

"Meanwhile, government is in the process of assessing the need and capacity for further private residential property cleanup," the statement said.

Maritime Electric said Byers and others concerned about trees near their power lines should call the utility.

The company said it has a customer list for tree trimming it's working on, and have hired some contractors as well.

"Any large trees putting tension on the line we note in our system," the company said in a statement. "We will provide this to crews.

"We know that our vegetation management crews have been working closely with our customers and trimming or ground-cutting trees that are in contact with our power lines."