AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Saturday following the recent ice storm that resulted in many trees breaking and causing widespread damage.
As homeowners and residents try to repair the damage caused by downed trees, KVUE's Rob Evans explains how to take care of the debris left behind safely.
"We're all in this together," said Evans. "So what do we do with this? Well, the City of Austin says to cut it down and take it to the curb. Sounds easy, but it's not. Here are some options on how to move the heavy debris left behind."
The easiest way to break down a broken tree is with a chainsaw, but remember safety first before operating one. When cutting with a chainsaw, wear a hard hat and eye protection, and never cut anything above your head. Branches, regardless of if they are frozen or not, are extremely heavy once detached from the tree.
"This branch is probably the weight of my son," explained Evans. "Imagine what the whole tree weighs."
When cutting down broken limbs, you can either cut them frozen or wait until they thaw to get a better idea of the damage. For older trees, it can be better to cut the branches while they're frozen to reduce the risk of further stress and damage. When cutting, make sure to only cut the damaged branches and worry about calling an arborist to prune and seal the open cuts later.
When using a chainsaw, the most dangerous part is the kickback - when the chainsaw moves backwards after cutting through something very thick - and the "spring back" effect that branches after a downward force is removed from them.
A less dangerous and expensive option is to have a tree pruner. This tool allows you to not use a ladder when cutting and spend under $50. When using a tree pruner, use it like you would a steak knife: move the tool in a smooth back-and-forth motion, letting the weight of the pruner do the work.
Don't try to lift something that is too heavy. Evans, who didn't take his own advice, caused himself some back pain when lifting a tree branch.
"Oh, I can't move it," Evans exclaimed as he struggled to lift a branch.
After you've cut the limbs, you can put them into your yard's waste bin or stack them on the curb for pickup if they are cut into five-foot sections. If the branches are between five and 15 feet, call 311 to schedule a curbside pickup.