Tree On House? Ruth to the Rescue

Resident rescued, city dealing with tree crisis

By Ruth Spencer - Anchor, Tony Statz - Producer

DETROIT - The buzz of a chainsaw and the hum of a city truck were music to the ears of Detroit resident Michael Leonard on a rainy Friday afternoon. He was watching city of Detroit crews removing a dead ash tree that had fallen on his home more than two weeks ago.

"This is awesome man. Thanks a lot," Michael Leonard told Ruth to the Rescue as he watched the tree removed from his home.

Leonard has been living with a tree hanging precariously over his front door for weeks--since around June 3.

"I broke some branches off because it was blocking my doorway to get in," he said as he showed Ruth to the Rescue the branches that still were hanging over this door.

He says he called the city of Detroit for help but never heard back. Unfortunately he couldn't remember exactly what department he called, but he was still frustrated that no one had responded.

The problem is complicated by that fact that the tree is on private property. However, the home that sits on that property is abandoned, and finding the

owners of such properties can be an exercise in futility. Ruth to the Rescue couldn't track down the owner quickly, but did contact Detroit's City Hall on Leonard's behalf.

City Hall Steps Up To Take Tree Down

Ruth to the Rescue contacted City Hall on Leonard's behalf. Although a spokesperson says the city could not find a record of Leonard's complaint, the city stepped up to take the tree down.

"Although this is not a city-owned tree, we saw the resident was in distress. And, we were able, and we decided to come out and offer some assistance," said Kimberly Jones, superintendent of the Ground Maintenance and Forestry Department.

She told Ruth to the Rescue the entire city is dealing with a tree crisis. The emerald ash borer epidemic took a heavy toll on the city's trees, and keeping up with the removal has become an overwhelming task.

"Right now, we have over 5,000 dead and dangerous trees throughout the city," said Jones.

With just two crews to work the entire city, she says the new administration is focusing on several options to eliminate the backlog. The mayor's team is also looking for ways to make property owners more accountable.

"That's definitely one of the things the mayor is trying to do now, to reach out to different home and landowners and make them responsible for their properties and responsible for the things that take place on their properties."        

In the meantime, Michael Leonard is grateful the big tree that hit his home, has been cut up and carried away. He thanked God, his pastor, and last but not least he said.... "Thank you Ruth to the Rescue for rescuing me!"

Calling For City Help

If you have an dead tree emergency, Jones offered two phone numbers you can call for help. Remember, the city crews are stretched thin, and if the tree is on private property, the city may not always be able to step in.

For the General Forestry Line, please call 313-871-5461

The Emergency Storm Line, for trees on homes, blocking streets, trees on cars, call 313-590-3336

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