Saturated soil likely contributed to tree uprooting

Hackberry tears away from parkway, but little damage results

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By Bob Uphues


A mature hackberry tree – 22 inches in diameter and at least 30 feet tall – uprooted during a rainstorm overnight on May 28-29 in the 300 block of Blackhawk Road in Riverside, falling into the front yard of a neighboring home, but otherwise causing very little damage.

"It hit nothing," said Nancy Morgan, whose son and daughter-in-law, Gavin and Susan Morgan, live in the house directly in line from where the tree formerly stood on the public parkway. "We feel very blessed it didn't hurt anything."

Morgan said the family didn't notice the tree had toppled until about 6:30 a.m. on May 29, when someone went out to walk the dog.

When the tree toppled, the trunk also took the parkway lawn with it, flipping it 90 degrees. It had also fallen to the southeast, across the driveway and into the neighbor's yard.

By 8 a.m., however, a tree removal crew was on the scene and had it removed and cut into sections by 10:30 a.m., Morgan said.

Village Forester Michael Collins said the uprooting likely was the result of several factors. The tree, like its twin – still standing to the west – had a pre-existing lean. But the incident, Collins said, was not uncommon during periods of heavy rain and storms.

"It's a simple tree failure based on a storm," Collins said. "I think it was a combination of factors, including excessively wet soil combined with a maxed-out root base.

While such incidents are unusual, they aren't unheard of in Riverside. A large maple tree completely uprooted from the parkway in the 100 block of Michaux Road during a violent wind storm in June 2011 that felled about a half dozen trees in the village.

In that instance, Collins, noted the maple did not have a pre-existing lean like the Blackhawk Road tree.

"It's unfortunate to lose a nice big tree like that," he said.

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