Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

48 hours of fretting about a fallen limb upon a power line June 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:24 AM
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An Xcel Energy-contracted tree removal service removes a limb from an electrical wire.

FOR TWO DAYS, I fret and wonder if the electrical wire stretching from the pole at the end of my driveway to a neighbors’ house across the street will fall.

A good-sized broken branch pushes upon the sagging wire. I worry. Will the wire anchor pull loose under the weight of limb and leaves, dropping the foliage upon an unsuspecting motorist, pedestrian or biker?

Will I be calling 911 instead of Xcel Energy? This tree limb, if freed, could seriously injure (or even kill) someone or damage a vehicle. I don’t even want to ponder the dangers of fallen electrical wire lying on the ground in a neighborhood teeming with children.

Already my husband has taken the proper action after we first notice the snapped limb and the sagging wire around 11 a.m. Saturday. He’s knocked on the neighbors’ door. They are gone, so I phone and leave a message.

Then he calls the power company and explains the situation, emphasizing that the tree-weighed wire looming over a city street poses a danger.

We expect concern. Instead, he is told that because the wire runs from pole to house, tree branch removal is the homeowner’s responsibility. But the company will send a supervisor to access the situation, he’s assured.

This casual reaction surprises us. My anxiety level rises. I could be wrong on this, but I doubt many tree companies will deal with a limb suspended upon an electrical wire. We’ve had tree companies refuse to remove a tree due to close power line proximity.

For now, we settle with informing another neighbor, who is holding a garage sale. My husband warns a garage sale customer to move her van after she’s parked directly under the balancing branch.

But we can’t sit here all day and night pointing out the danger to all who travel or walk along this busy side street. We’ve done our best to alert Xcel Energy, to enlighten the neighbors most affected.

We tell each other that the power company is likely busy with tornado-related electrical issues, placing our worrisome call low on the priority list.

Finally, around noon on Monday, an Xcel-contracted tree removal service arrives. As the branch falls to the ground, my worry falls too. Yet at the back of my mind nags the concern:  Why did it take 48 hours to remove this danger from my neighborhood?

A view from an upstairs bedroom in my home as a worker removes a tree limb from a power line.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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