It may Look Like a Tornado Hit but it was Only the Utility Company


For the most part, the county and utility companies pretty much leave us alone out here.

But like some tornadoes, we were given a warning they were coming this spring through fliers placed in our mailboxes.

It wasn’t a force of nature, but large tree trimming machines and brush hogs, sent by the utility companies.

They decided to claim their 15 feet of easement along the utility line routes, which of course, runs the nearly 2 miles from the blacktop along the road and right in front of our property.

My aunt, who was the first to run power lines down our road said she cried the first time they came in 1997 to install the lines.

“I said, ‘what have I done to this beautiful landscape,” my aunt remembers. “And then someone reminded me if we hadn’t done it, someone else would have.”

The road after the brush hog

Trees and bushes reduced to stubs

When they returned, I can’t imagine that it looked much worse than it did then. Although we had come down here regularly to help my aunt build their home, I do not remember the destruction caused by the power lines the first time.

But, we were different people then and we didn’t have a house here.

Two weeks ago, the big tree trimming machine made it. When they were done, we could tell where they had been and they knocked down other trees getting to the ones they were trimming (collateral damage), but we didn’t think it was that bad.

Until they told us the brush hogs would follow.

We worried, Dale especially, about the bushes in front of our storage building, which was helping keep the dust from the road off of the building.

I spotted the workman before they came with the brush hogs, talking over a set of blueprints and then talked to him again that morning. He assured me they would leave as “much as possible” and try not to take the whole  15 feet.

When I heard the roar of their machines later, I didn’t run out screaming and cursing as I heard some people did. I hoped my ‘attracting flies with honey’ strategy worked.

While they did leave a little of the bushes in front of the building, they still left our property looking as unsightly as the rest.

We hope we don’t see them again for at least another 15 years.

What does the government or utility companies do to irk you?

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20 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    6or 7 years ago I was approached by a young man who said he worked for our local power company. He asked if I would give permission to trim some trees that would eventially cause problems with the power lines. I gave my permission and he said a crew would be here within two weeks to complete the work. He pointed out two large trees on my property that were old and diseased and near a smaller power and telephone lines that cross my property to the neighbors house. He asked if they could cut them down as well. I gave my written permission for the work to be done. I live on Social Security and a small WV State pension, so there is no money for removing trees. The crew showed up two weeks later, cut some small trees down, neatly staked the wood and used a wood chipper for the small branches and bagged the chips and even left a couple bags for me. They said someone would be back with a bucket truck to cut the larger trees in about a month. That was 6 or 7 years ago, even with a call a month, then a call every two weeks,then a call a week to the power company those trees are still standing….maybe some day.

  2. Merr says:

    It seems that appropriate clean-up would be part of the job.

  3. Heather L. says:

    Maybe you should have offered the workers lemonade. Since I live in the city, we don’t have those kind of issues, but they do cut down the growth in the retention pond next to us once a year. I always wondered how it affected the tiny frogs in there, but they seem as loud as ever.

  4. Those photos do like a tornado hit! Well every 15 years doesn’t sound too bad. At least you were able to talk to them before hand. We didn’t get any warning when they trimmed our trees for the utility lines.

  5. M warden says:

    If the work was not done properly, report it, with pictures, to the utility company. Our company is pretty responsive about things like this. After all, they hired the subcontractor who left the mess.

    • Kerri says:

      This is how this sub leaves all of the work all over the county. The utility company doesn’t care, unfortunately.

  6. This would bum me out too. We were very careful to keep things we want on our side of the road easement. We don’t so much have trouble with the power company … though workers did once hop our fence without notice to work on a utility box on our land. They came to the house to announce their presence and scared the crap out of me. Because our property is fully fenced, with a locking gate at the road … I’m not used to people getting close to the house without permission. We did once lose our mailbox / post and all when the county road workers accidentally snapped it off at the ground while grading the road.

    • Kerri says:

      We don’t like the road graters either, Roxanne. Just as our road is starting to smooth out and get drivable again, they come back with the grater. We’re pretty sure they will widen the road the next time they come down, as they don’t have the bushes now to stop them.

  7. Shortly after we moved here, my husband and I had a discussion about a willow tree that was growing near the bank of our septic pond. My husband was worried about the roots breaking the berm around the pond and causing leakage but I stood foursquare in favor of keeping the tree. The very next week, the power company came calling and told me they had to take out the tree because it was growing right up into the power line. I hated it, but had no choice but to let them cut it.

    Willow trees are water hogs and so they often grow on the banks of ponds and creeks. People get rid of them because of the damage they can do. Unfortunately, there are many species that depend on willows for survival, including the little willow leaved flycatcher, a native bird that is struggling right now due to loss of its habitat, willow trees. (My husband however, was very happy that not only did the tree get taken care of without him having to fire up the chainsaw, but it also ended our “discussion” over the issue.)

  8. Liz says:

    I appreciate the power company, and the modern conveniences that come with power. I have a lot of respect for the men and women who work so hard to keep us up and running.
    I support the idea that branches should be kept trimmed away from power lines and its better to prevent fallen power lines when possible by keeping the area clear. That being said, the whole lowest bidder saving money aspect of things (which I understand mind you) means that sometimes the people doing the work don’t have the knowledge and means to properly take care of the area they work on. You get the slipshod clear cutting and branches cut flat off without care for the health of the trees. There must be a way to deal with the issue safely while still keeping aesthetics and environment in mind.

    • Kerri says:

      You would think, Liz. The trees weren’t even our biggest issue. It’s the munching of everything in sight by these huge brush hogs. As you can see above, it left an unsightly mess.

  9. Kerry Dexter says:

    I have to agree with Olivia, above, about being thankful for the folk out in bad weather. they often go to help people in other areas, too, when storms hit there.

    do they do things that irk me, as you’ve described? sure. but for me, a different focus is the best way to go.

    • Kerri says:

      It really is hard to focus on anything else when there is such devestation right outside our gate. We’ll be looking at this for a long time.

  10. Olivia says:

    Our utility companies are pretty good, aside from charging outrageous fees, of course;)

    When I see them up on their cherry pickers during vicious storms trying to hook customers back up to the power grid again I can’t help but admire and be thankful for them. Winter blizzards, ice storms, hurricanes, nor’easters . . . Without these guys we would spend much of our lives in the cold and dark.

    The government, however . . . that’s a whole other story!

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, I’m very grateful to have power and was sure glad to get it back after the ice storm. We also understand their desire to keep the limbs away from the lines so we do not lose power in the first place. But our place looks like a bad storm went through. There are jagged remnants of bushes and small trees sticking up 2-4 foot. I think the least they could have done was make it look just a bit better.