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Tree trimmers busy ahead of Hurricane Matthew

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RICHMOND, VA. -- "It'll get pretty again,” said Pat Harden, sentimental over an enormous tree in her back yard.

"The last time we had this trimmed, our daughter was married right there, in the middle of that tree, in 2011,” said Harden.

Harden had a change of heart after recent summer storms.

"We all woke up the next morning,” she said. “And it was like a war zone.”

“They were uprooted...you know...hundreds of years old trees across the streets...everywhere,” she said. “You couldn't get through for a couple of days.”

Now, with Hurricane Matthew in the headlines, locals have been proactive – though the latest track indicates Richmond is clear of its path.

Still, crews are trimming branches back to Harden's favorite silver maple – work that they say is good to have done, regardless.

"With everything around here...that's the only tree that could be trouble. All of these other ones are short, you're not going to catch any wind,” said Charlie Ward, Certified Arborist, C.S. Flournoy.

Strong winds could be the biggest issue with any storm. Ward encouraged homeowners to pay attention to dead and rotten trees in their yard, ones whose limbs and branches could more easily snap in two.

"The hollow in the tree...that's a sign of weakness. So, in a strong wind that's a weak part of the tree where the tree could break,” said Ward.

And in some cases, Ward says trees can be uprooted when the ground is heavily saturated from a storm.

"Look around that base of the trees. Look for mushrooms. That's a sign of rot. Mushrooms only grow on rotten wood, not green wood,” Ward said.

Experts suggest calling tree companies now to inspect the property because they’re starting to get busy.

The cost is around $150 versus thousands of dollars if trees damage your home, they said.

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