CLEVELAND - Friday night a tree was responsible for killing a man, Sunday, for destroying a porch and damaging another home on Cleveland's East Side.
The homeowner of the historic three-story house on 9800 block of Westchester Avenue told NewsChannel 5 the tree fell just three inches away from her bedroom around 3 a.m. Sunday morning.
The damage she saw right after is the same damage that remained on her home well into Sunday evening: a large tree trunk crushing in her entire front porch as it continued to lean on the 2nd level porch of the home next-door to hers.
Unfortunately, Lavon Thomas said the damage to her home is something she tried to prevent by calling the city numerous times. The tree, she explained, sat right next to her home and was growing in between a fence that separated a City of Cleveland alley from private property.
"Some of the limbs fell on the tree maybe about five or six years ago and we had the house fixed on that side of the house and that's the first time I called the city then," said Thomas over the phone.
Thomas said after each of the approximately four times she called the city, she was told someone would be out to inspect the tree. Thomas said she and her husband even paid money out of their own pocket to have limbs on that same tree removed, so it would not damage their home again.
After looking at her mangled porch, still under the giant tree trunk Sunday, she said, "The wind was just blowing away from our house-I mean the bedroom, so it didn't fall on us, Thank God for that."
"The tree fell across the porch and at that point, actually the roof, all of that was still there …part of it down, but over time during the evening the whole porch just collapsed," said India Lee, a neighbor across the street with a front-row-seat to the destruction. She described the tree falling into the home as sounding like an earthquake that shook the house early Sunday.
Lee said the private property half of the tree sat on, has been vacant for quite some time. And just like we heard in Friday night's fatal tree fall, Lee said trees have fallen in the neighborhood in the past, even larger than the one on her neighbor's home, in the months following Superstorm Sandy.
"They're, you know 200-year-old trees in this community and you know it would be great to have somebody from Urban Forestry come out and just check these trees and just see if there're rotten," said Lee.
On-the-phone, Thomas said, "These trees, if they're diseased, they need to be taken down right away because they're dangerous, they do a lot of damage so they need to be taken down."
NewsChannel 5 contacted the Mayor's office on the fallen tree. A spokesperson for the Mayor's Office wrote, "Preliminary information indicates the tree that came down was on private property and would be the responsibility of the owner."
The spokesperson went on to say since city offices are closed Monday for Martin Luther King Day, the alley immediately next to the damaged homes, which is now blocked by a large tree trunk, would not be removed until Tuesday when city offices re-open.
Myra Carter, the homeowner who received damage to the upper level of her home due to the fallen tree, said she won't be able to get an estimate on damage costs until the tree is removed and her home is inspected.