Two Cleveland families homeless Friday because of serious storm damage Thursday night

Posted at 4:12 PM, Apr 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-08 10:27:40-04

A down tree destroyed one home and did serious damage to the one next door on West 129th Street. 

Those homeowners told News 5 all the heartbreak was completely preventable because they've been reporting that tree for months.

"The guy in September told me that if the tree did fall they would have to replace the roof. So they knew what would happen," homeowner Janice Fitch told News 5. 

Fitch said September is the last time a city employee was on her street, checking out the tree in front of her home that she's been complaining about for years. 

Fitch said she was told the tree was on a city-wide list for removal, but when she called, just this past Monday, when the roots started pulling through the asphalt, she didn't get an answer.

Now, Friday, she doesn't have a place to sleep. The tree she said she's been worrying about for what seems like forever now the only thing that will be resting in her bedroom for awhile. 

Fitch and her neighbor, whose home was also damaged, say it all begs the question: 'Why did it have to come to this? Especially after the tree sat on the removal list for a year.'

News 5 asked City Councilman, Brian Kazy.

"What does this preventable damage say about the city of Cleveland?" 

"We need to do something about our urban forestry department...We are behind in tree removal in the City of Cleveland. It's a problem the city has and we need to do something to rectify the situation," Kazy said. 

A spokesman for the City of Cleveland told News 5 there are hundreds of trees that need to be removed and they're dealing with a backlog. He said they are helping families with the claims process and they plan to increase the removal of damaged trees this year through their enhanced budget.