PORT ARANSAS, Texas — On Jan. 2, strong winds in the Port Aransas area knocked the top off a palm tree at Elizabeth Pianta’s neighbor’s house. Pianta said the tree looked healthy, but during the winds, the top flew off and dented the hood of her neighbor’s truck.
On the other side of her house, Pianta’s other neighbor has two palm trees against the fence of her yard. She said during the same winds on Jan. 2, those trees were swaying in the wind, and one was bending over, looming toward her house, which made her nervous.
“All I can picture is the same thing is going to happen, but not on my vehicle, on my house,” she said. “I do not want to have to go through anymore renovation and rebuild process, I’m just winding down after Harvey.”
Pianta started doing research on palm trees, how to spot dead palm trees, and if seemingly healthy palm trees could actually be dead or dying. So, she called two experts to take a look at her neighbor’s palm trees, one of which was Adrian Gutierrez from Toro Trees in Corpus Christi. Gutierrez said his crews have seen a lot of issues with palm trees in the area since last February’s freeze.
“Everything around here in South Texas that we don’t normally see took a hit from the freeze, and we’re still seeing the side effects from it nearly a year later,” he said.
The Toro crew took a look at the trees, and determined they are healthy, and there is no threat to Pianta’s home. However, Gutierrez said he has seen trees that have looked healthy that are not.
“To a customer, it may look green, but the palm tree is dead from the freeze. With these high winds, it will knock them over,” he said.
Gutierrez recommends having a professional taking a look at trees that may be a problem, as they are the only ones who can really tell the health of a tree, and only after inspecting it.
Pianta said she can sleep easy knowing the trees near her home aren’t a threat, but is worried about other trees in town causing property damage, or worse, injuries.
“Trees that seem perfectly healthy swaying in the wind, and the next thing you know, the top has snapped off, and it’s in your path,” she said.
Pianta recommends to her fellow Port Aransas residents that they get their trees checked out to avoid damage to their or a neighbor’s property, or injury to anyone.