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Long-term impact of North Texas ice storm seen in tree damage

When trees and big branches break, it opens the trees up to decay. Many trees are still feeling the effects of the 2021 February freeze.

PLANO, Texas — The Kunes family has lived in their Plano home for almost four decades and that entire time sheltered always by the large American elm that stands tall in their front yard. 

The family told WFAA that the tree is almost 200 years old and is one of the largest trees around. On Thursday, a large portion of the elm came down after this week's ice storm.

Kathleen Kunes and her husband heard the tree fall at 7 a.m. this morning.

"It came down very gracefully, very quietly," said Kathleen Kunes. "This was the last storm he could endure."

There will be more stories like this as North Texas thaws and weighty branches and trees fall. 

"Ice and trees do not mix well. The more leaves the trees have the poorer the mix is," said expert horticulturist Neil Sperry. He said that when trees and big branches break it opens the trees up to decay. 

He said many trees are still reeling from the effects of the 2021 February freeze.

"It landed in the perfect spot," said Jeff Smout.

The Kunes family was smart to have an arborist put cables in the tree to reduce the stress and manage the fall. The large elm fell in the front yard, missing their home and their neighbor's home. 

The only hurt around here is on the inside.

"He served as a backdrop for all of our weddings, first communions, proms," said Kathleen Kunes

They have a certified arborist, which Neil Sperry highly recommends. He said to avoid just anyone with a chainsaw who knocks on your door.

"They can do more damage than the storm did," he said.

The children have been told the news. The Kunes family does not know yet if the tree can be salvaged and is waiting on word from the arborist.

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