Credit: Grant Blankenship/GPB
In Valdosta, Idalia left trees in people's houses. Getting them out can cost a lot
Recovery from Hurricane Idalia continues in South Georgia after the storm brought heavy rain and winds up to 90 mph on Wednesday. For some in the Valdosta area, recovery is about maintaining perspective. For others, it's about respect.
Reed Valdez has a puzzle.
"I have my lawnmower jack but I don't know if it's being enough for that," the Valdosta resident said.
Idalia put trees in his yard, and in his house.
"Tree had to fall on the one room in the house that runs the entire width of the house. With no walls in it to stop it," Valez said.
The tree came to rest on his truck that once belonged to his grandfather.
"That's a 2002 with 295,000 miles on it," Valez said, "He sold that to me for....a dollar?"
He’s got far more sentiment trapped under the tree trunk. And so...the puzzle. Roll the tree off the hood? Try and lift it?
"No glass is shattered. Suspension is probably shot on the front. But I’m pretty sure if I get that tree off of it?" he mused.
It might be drivable. If not, Valdez said that’s ok. Because his family is safe.
"They got out. They're alive."
As for his grandfather’s pickup:
"That's just material things. Can't take it when you die."
There's always the sound of chainsaws once a storm like Idalia moves out. But after the City of Valdosta clears the roads...It gets quiet. That’s because local governments are only responsible for public property.
What’s in your yard or, in the case of Valdosta resident James LaPlant, what’s stuck in your roof, is your problem.
But LaPlant said he’s had no shortage of people willing to help him out. For a price.
"So we've had I mean, I think we had as many as, you know, ten or 12 business cards just left on our door," he said. "But yeah, it's just the number of people that descend upon you and kind of charge exorbitant rates is breathtaking.
LaPlant is waiting on a local business he’s used before, but Idalia just left too much timber on the ground in south Georgia for locals only. It’s a literal windfall for tree service companies from around the region.
Doug Shramplin traveled up from Florida to look for tree removal work. He’s cruising, going door to door. He has a pitch.
"You want the trees office soon as possible," he said. "You want to maintain the moisture. You don't want, you know, mold or stuff setting into houses."
He’s hoping that persuades. And what’s the cost?
"It's different for different companies, but I think bare minimum is probably 1500 bucks an hour," he said.
An hour? An hour? Yeah.
"We're finding that a lot of people in the area don't really have the money to spend on things like this," Shramplin said.
And this is dangerous work. Tragically, Georgia’s only Idalia-related death was a man clearing a tree on his own.
So people in Valdosta have to weigh their options.
"Well, when you're 79 years old, you get tired very easily, said Valdosta homeowner Bob Lee.
He’s got a bulletin board full with tree service business cards too.
"I've had people tell me up to when they thought I was going to have insurance, they were up to $4500," he said.
4500 hundred dollars. That’s just for one tree resting on the corner of his roof.
Lee finally found someone to remove it for $800. But he also has to do something about his other tree ...that fell on his neighbor’s roof.
"You know, mentally, we're really whacked out," he said.
Officials have been warning residents about sketchy tree work.
They say to watch out for people who want payment up front who could literally cut and run.
That's why Reed Valdez said he and his family are taking care of things on their own.
"They're charging 1500 dollars an hour in a time like this? Who's got 1500 dollars an hour?" Valdez asked.
"I mean, we've already been out here a couple of hours now. That's three grand," he added. "No, I got what I need. Thank you. Have a good day."