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Arborists working around the clock to make trees safe

Published: 13 April 2018

Auckland Council contractors will be working around the clock until Monday to make roads safe and manage emergency tree works across the region.

Auckland Council Head of Operational Management & Maintenance Agnes McCormack says contractors are prioritising jobs that pose immediate safety issues: where trees from public land have brought down powerlines, have fallen on houses, or are preventing people from getting in and out of their driveways.

“Since Tuesday we have received more than 2000 calls via Auckland Council’s contact centre relating to downed trees – this is more than we what we receive in an average month,” Ms McCormack says.

“Our contractors are working 24 hours in shifts to respond to emergency calls, which is expected to continue until Monday. Crews have been brought in from across the country to assist with the clean-up effort and in total 35 crews are on the ground clearing trees and assisting Vector to reconnect power to Auckland homes and businesses.

“I want to clarify that following events of this magnitude Vector does not need to wait for approval from us to remove trees that have compromised powerlines,” Ms McCormack says.

“We are aware that some properties remain without power and empathise with those who remain affected. Unfortunately, there have been some delays where the specialist equipment required to remove some of the larger downed trees is being utilised on other removals.

“Other maintenance contractors have been diverted from routine maintenance work to assist with the clean-up and will be working with our arborists to clean up the tree debris that is being left on site.

“People can expect to see trimmed branches being left on berms as arborists are moved onto higher priority jobs, but can be assured that they will be cleared and mulched in the coming weeks. The mulch will then be utilised in parks and reserves across the Auckland region.

“We ask for patience during the clean-up effort,” says McCormack.

Auckland Council Regional Manager Arboriculture and Ecology  Bruce Edwards says the storm is the worst he’s seen in his 24 years working in arboriculture in Auckland.

“The storm was characterised by strong nor-westerlies which is not common for Auckland,” he says.

“Virtually every street in Auckland has some level of tree damage. In a number of localised cases the damage has been quite severe, some streets have lost half of their well-established trees.

“Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict how healthy trees will react in these conditions, and it’s saddening to see so many well-established trees fail,” Mr Edwards says.