DEER ISLE, Maine — The tree in 94-year-old Barbara Seymour’s front yard was at least 100 years old, and it would have cost about $2,500 to remove, according to tree surgeon estimates.
But neighbor Mike Weed and Thursday’s windstorm saved Seymour the money. The storm knocked the tree into South Deer Isle Road and Weed sawed its remains – both for free. Seymour’s home health aide, Kris Fowler, was thrilled.
“Mike is a doll,” Fowler said Thursday as residents here took stock of the storm damage. “We didn’t know what we were going to do with that tree, and now we don’t have to do anything. He’s a wonderful, wonderful man. He reminds me of my father. If somebody needs help, he is right there to help them.”
As volunteers, Weed and fellow Deer Isle resident Byron Hutchinson helped state and municipal workers clear a dozen trees from roadways on Thursday and Friday. Helping neighbors during bad weather is a deeply rooted custom on this small island, but tree removal is always hazardous, especially when the trees are near live electrical wires, Stonington Public Works Foreman Shaun Eaton said.
“They take it upon themselves to make locals happy, but really they should not be doing it,” Eaton said. “If the tree is up above you and they turn on the power and you don’t know, you light up like a Christmas tree.
“Even us. We don’t touch trees if they are on a power line until the power guys show up. That’s not our job,” Eaton said.
Cleanup from Thursday’s storm continued Friday, with electrical power still out on most of the island as of Friday afternoon, Eaton said.
Hutchinson, a 50-year-old excavation contractor and Deer Isle resident, said he cleared five or six trees on Reach Road near Greenlaw District Road on Thursday.
The math of it is simple for Hutchinson: The trees were down, the road was blocked and he has a chain saw — a 16-inch Husquavarna that’s 3 or 4 years old. People needed help, he said. Lots of volunteer firefighters on the island will take on trees, too, whether they are working or not.
“It’s just something to do to help people out, I guess. There are always people who are willing to help out a bit,” he said.
Hutchinson has been doing this kind of thing probably since he was in his 20s, he said.
“It all depends on the circumstances,” he said. “If the power line is out of the way enough, I would cut [a fallen tree] up, but if it is all tangled up in a line I would probably wait for Bangor Hydro to show up.”
Hutchinson said he liked doing work for his neighbors, but does not want, to paraphrase John Lennon, to be benefited to death.
As a contractor, he said, “I have plenty of work of my own.”