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‘Strike Team’ Deploys To Nurse Trees Hurt By Harvey

Harvey’s list of impacts only grows

A member of the Urban Forest Strike Team checks a map in Rockport, Texas in September 2017.

The list of Hurricane Harvey’s impacts on the Houston area only seems to grow, even almost a year out from the storm. One of the latest additions to that list is the potential of a widespread tree die-off.

Even though Houston floods regularly, Paul Johnson with the Texas A&M Forest Service said Harvey was particularly harmful, given the amount sheer amount of water Harvey dumped on Houston, and how long it took to drain.

“Trees that are flooded for just a few hours can often withstand that,” Johnson said. “Those that are under water for days, weeks, months, the longer that time period, the more severe the damage usually is.”

Johnson said the beginning signs of a tree dying — losing leaves and branches — can take a while to show up. It’s only now, ten months later, that The Texas A&M Urban Forest Strike Team is touring the Gulf Coast to assess the damage.

“A lot of the trees that were damaged by the flooding last year went ahead and leafed out this spring and so they looked like they were just fine, Johnson said. “Now that it’s getting hotter and the rainfall is less common we’re starting to see those ill effects.”

Johnson said his group is most concerned with older trees dying off and losing limbs. He said the older plants clean more air than younger ones and lose heavier branches which can fall on people, homes, and cars. 

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Davis Land

Davis Land

General Assignments Reporter

Davis Land is a general assignment reporter for Houston Public Media. He cut his teeth at Atlantic Public Media/Transom.org in Woods Hole, MA and at WBUR in Boston. His work has appeared on various public radio programs and podcasts including Texas Standard, Here and Now, and Marketplace. Davis is a...

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