Tree trimmers struggle to keep up with storm-related cleanup

There are some familiar sounds echoing through neighborhoods in the Bay Area, the buzzing and grinding from tools used to get rid of fallen trees.

It may not be "music to the ears," but it’s a sound some of us may have to get used to for a while.

It's a scene playing out throughout the Bay Area, big trees that once stood proud and tall, are down on the ground after a storm-related fall, and tree trimmers are having trouble keeping up with all the work.

An Oakland neighborhood near Highway 13 was buzzing with activity Saturday as workers cleaned up, and a chipper chewed through the remains of a tree the homeowner considered a potential hazard. Rather than waiting for Mother Nature to bring down the timber on Guido Street, tree trimmers were called in to do it in an orderly fashion.

Workers from JMV Tree Service in Hayward were doing the work. They said they’ve been working 16-hour days every day for the past week and still can’t keep up with demand.

"Unfortunately, it’s been so busy for us, we are no longer taking any customers.  All we are doing is previous customers that are contacting us," said Juan Valle with JMV Tree Service. 

Right next door, a crew with M & M Tree Service was busy at work.

A tree came tumbling down Wednesday night, slicing through power lines and ripping the electric box from a home.

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The residents of the home have been left in the dark ever since and getting their power back on comes with complications. 

"We still don’t have power because PG&E said they need to fix the utility box first.  To do that you need to get a letter from PG&E and then a permit from the city," said Farida Jhabvala Romero, as she stood with her daughters in front of her powerless home. "It will be days before we have power."

With a small generator being the home's sole means of power, her young daughters were learning what it feels like to miss what many take for granted.

"The heater, yeah, like it’s cold at night," said Devika Kofoed.

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"We can’t really watch anything on our computers," said Anisha Kofoed. "And so, sometimes I just like to draw and use a flashlight," 

There was another unpleasant sight in Pleasant Hill, where not one, but two trees came down this week at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Cumberland Drive.

Chris Fernainy provided a picture showing the downed tree, and a homeowner who preferred to remain anonymous described the intensity of what happened.

"Just like a giant, ripping crunching sound…"

Mark Menges, the owner of M & M Tree Service based in Richmond, said he hasn’t been this busy since the winter of 2005/2006, which he described as "super bad." And with the potential for more foul weather ahead, he said this may end up being the "busiest, craziest year" he’s had in more than 40 years.