Top 5 Storm Damage FAQs (Including): Do I need a tree removal permit to remove damaged trees?

Property owners in Central Texas are concerned about their trees following the recent ice storms. The certified arborists at Heritage Tree Care can provide you with up-to-date, knowledgeable answers to your questions.

storm damage tree permit needed to remove hazardous tree from ice storm

Trees damaged during February 2023 ice storm in Austin, Texas need tree permits for removal.

1. Will my tree die if it’s badly damaged?

 If your tree has tipped and the root ball is lifting out of the ground, it must be removed. However, even if the tree has suffered significant damage, it may survive with proper care. 

Property owners can trim hanging or badly damaged limbs just enough to lessen the branch’s weight. Then you can have an arborist assess the damage and complete proper pruning later.

Cleaning up storm damage is a multi-step process. First, arborists focus on hazards to life and property. Then they work through all the calls of damaged trees.

2. What do I do if a tree has fallen on my roof or is obstructing access to my building? 

Contact a qualified tree care company. A professional arborist should cut any large trees that are blocking access or are hazardous and take them off the building(s) safely. This process can be trickier than it looks because the stem can shift and move as the branches are removed. 

All the local tree companies are busy, so it’s essential to include the words ’emergency’ and ‘hazardous’ when you get in touch. Also, include a short description of the situation and send photos of the tree’s base and surrounding area. It helps them plan the removal if you show how close it is to any buildings, roads, and driveways so they can identify potential targets in case of a fall.

3. Could a damaged tree become a hazard? 

The safest thing is to hire an arborist trained with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification to determine whether the tree is likely to fail and what the consequences are if it does fail. Qualified tree risk assessors have been trained with an internationally recognized standard, and they will help you decide.

oak grove with limbs scattering on the ground from ice storm causing tree damage

Oak grove with scattered broken branches from ice storm.

4. Do I need a permit to remove severely damaged protected or heritage trees?

Each municipality has its own rules. For example, in Austin, if the tree is on a residential property and has a diameter of 19 inches or more at chest height, or 8 inches or more on a commercial site, you will need a permit.

The City of Austin allows an arborist or property owner to complete an emergency tree removal of a tree that’s creating an immediate hazard. However, you still need to apply for a free, retroactive tree permit within seven days. Your request should be submitted as a Tree Ordinance Review Application (TORA). 

Before removing the tree, you must document the situation with photos showing the storm’s damage. Document the size of the tree by measuring its diameter at four to five feet above the root flare. 

Check with your local government for the rules if you are outside Austin city limits.

5. After the storm

Once the immediate hazards are addressed, make an appointment with a Certified Arborist to assess your damaged trees. 

The storm damage is tragic for everyone who appreciates trees’ shade, beauty, and environmental benefits. However, it’s also an excellent reminder to develop a relationship with your local arborist. Healthy trees are more likely to survive storms, disease, and insects, and regular care creates resilient trees.

The Central Texas landscape will look different for a while, but the trees will come back. Remember, we need patience—tree time is slow time.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced arborists, please get in touch with us through our website. 



Trees Enhance Our Lives

For the arborists of Heritage Tree Care, trees are more than a business- they’re our passion. You will find us contributing our time and expertise to the communities we serve; planting trees, educating children, or speaking at local clubs and events. Trees are an investment in our future—let’s care for them together.

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Office Address:
5424 W US Hwy 290 Service Rd #204-9, Austin, TX 78735

Mailing Address:
12214 Margo Dr., Buda, TX 78610

Serving Central Texas Since 2010

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