"Respect our property." Neighbors say tree trimmers went too far.
Neighbors call it "wanton destruction." They say a tree cutting contractor hired by Alabama Power left a mess in their yards. I-Team Consumer Investigator, Cynthia Gould, took their concerns to the power company.
"It took two hours for me to get calmed down; I was shaking so bad," recalls E. Frank Smith of Roebuck. He says he returned home one day last month to find two of his fig trees cut down. Those trees were planted 38 years ago. "I've had total strangers stop by and ask if they can get figs for jams and jellies," remarks Smith.
As a retired telephone company worker, Smith says he understand easements for utilities and this cutting went far beyond that. He says his trees were well below the power lines and not close enough to warrant cutting. "There was no reason for this," maintains Smith.
"I want an apology," says neighbor Ann Barnes. She is also furious. Barnes says as she understood it, her crepe myrtle would only be trimmed. "They whacked it to the ground," explained Barnes. Closer to her house she says they took out shrubs and limbs off a tree that in her words were not even near the power lines.
"We want the power company to know if that dies; it's theirs," says Barnes. She and Smith contend the private contractors need to respect private property. "Get a supervisor over these crews they're sending in the field. And, have somebody communicate what they're doing and when," recommends Smith.
Alabama Power Spokesperson Ike Pigott says if a mistake is made, the company will have a specialist work with customers to make it right. "We want to work at all points of the process with customers," says Pigott. If you've got an issue he says call Customer Service. The power company is working to replace Barnes' landscaping.
Pigott tells us attempts are always made in advance of trimming to contact property owners. Smith says he never got a call.
Tree trimming is done year round by the power company across the coverage area. "It's all in the name of keeping it safe and reliable. The trimming we do is valuable to keep lines from going down in bad weather," explains Pigott.
To learn more about the best practices when planting near power lines, Alabama Power has these recommendations: