A tree fell that didn’t damage a home or threaten a life.


But it did take away a lifetime of memories.

Edward Rees, who has lived in his Intracoastal West home for 38 years, nurtured a Shumard oak tree in his front yard for 30 of those years. When it got big enough, his grandson Nathan Peterson began spending hours climbing the branches. It was one of his favorite spots — spring and summer when the leaves grew thick and green, summer when they changed and winter after they fell.

On Monday, Rees and Peterson surveyed the scene in the front yard. The tree had fallen about 6:30 a.m., with little noise, after hours of Hurricane Irma dumped rain to soften the ground enough to allow the hours of wind to push the 60-foot oak down.

Fortunately it fell away from the house and landed across Deer Run Trail, one of the only two roads that lead into the Indian Springs neighborhood. The tree also didn’t damage any other houses or cars, but across the street was a reminder of how capricious hurricane damage can be. A smaller tree in one yard fell, damaged a corner of the house, then landed on the roof of the neighboring home.

“I thought it was going to come down this time,” Rees said. “It made it through a few tropical storms and Matthew, but I had a feeling.”

Rees said he was already awake when he watched the tree slowly begin to fall toward the road, taking a huge chunk of ground along with the roots.


First look at flooding, damage across Jacksonville

Urban water rescues, beaches cleanup in Irma's wake

Ponte Vedra oceanfront homes hit hard by Irma

Hurricane Irma aftermath at Jacksonville's beaches

“It almost didn’t make a sound,” he said. “A big branch fell in the driveway between our two cars but didn’t hit them. We can be thankful no one got hurt and it didn’t land on the house.”

Peterson, who was staying with his grandfather, looked sadly at the thick pile of branches he and neighbors who came by to help had already piled up.

“It’s sad,” he said. “This tree was part of my childhood.”

Shortly after the tree fell, a band of volunteers from the Indian Springs Homeowners Association sprang into action with chain saws, quickly trimming the branches that were blocking the road. Rees will have to take care of the rest but he was getting help from neighbors and even people walking by who stopped long enough to carry a few branches to the pile.

“It was going to come down sooner or later,” Rees said.

“Thank God it fell the way it did.”

Garry Smits: (904) 359-4362