PROVIDENCE, RI, April 28, 2011—A storm damage assessment survey completed by the Rhode Island Tree Council (RITree) indicates that tree damage mitigation costs for a major storm could cost six Rhode Island cities more than $54 million. The six cities are Cranston, Johnston, North Providence, Warren, Warwick, and Woonsocket. Clean up consists of tree pruning, tree removal, and debris discarding. The survey was just one of the activities in RITree’s Forestry Sustainability Project. Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (AARA), the project is being administered by the USDA Forest Service.

“Municipalities have a real need to perform storm damage surveys,” says John Campanini, RITree’s technical director and ARRA project supervisor. “They help managers and planners before and after natural disasters. But not every city or town has the manpower or the funds to do a survey—even though they know it’s imperative. The ARRA funds enabled us to do surveys for these six cities at no cost to them.”

The estimated costs for the cities and towns are

• $7.8 million for Cranston
• $4.2 million for Johnston
• $1.9 million for North Providence
• $3.7 million for Warren
• $34.1 million for Warwick
• $2.4 million for Woonsocket

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Storm damage surveys are critical first steps in helping municipalities recover post-storm mitigation costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA is the main source of federal emergency funding. It can deny any claim in the absence of proper documentation, delaying recovery of mitigation costs. But FEMA generally accepts tree mitigation estimates based on surveys that employ the Storm Damage Assessment Protocol, which RITree used here.

Storm damage surveys also help cities and towns recover from major storms and natural disasters. Historically, municipalities have lacked the details needed to accurately assess the impact of major storms. That’s because developing an approximate cost for post-storm cleanup isn’t easy without a pre-storm damage survey. RITree’s survey will help the cities set pre-storm priorities and determine post-storm tree damage mitigation costs.

“The re-shaping of Rhode Island’s environment starting with the early European settlers has made us more prone to damage from natural disasters,” says Campanini. “The flooding that took place last March is a good example of just how vulnerable we are to the effects of storms and hurricanes.”

RITree used pre-storm survey data along with special software to estimate total tree damage costs for a municipality. Members of RITree’s Green Team conducted the pre-storm survey starting last April using the new i-Tree Storm Damage software application.

The Rhode Island Tree Council is a non-profit, tax-exempt group dedicated to improving the state’s tree resources. Composed of members, professional consultants, and volunteers, the Council administers its programs through its Board of Directors, Advisors, and Trustees. RITree’s mission is to create healthy urban and community forests, which underpin the state’s verdant ecological tapestry, support its vibrant economy, and enrich the lives of residents. Membership is open to all.

For more information on the RITree Council’s Forestry Sustainability Project or its Green Team, contact Jeanne Current, Rhode Island Tree Council, P.O. Box 6144, Providence, RI 02940. Tel: 401-484-2555. Fax: 401-764-5886. E-mail: ritree@ritree.org

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Contact Information:
Jeanne Current
RITree Council / ARRA Project
PO Box 6144
Providence, RI 02940
Phone: 401.484.2555
Fax: 401.764.5886
e-mail: ARRAProject@ritree.org