TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Jay Harrold is busier than ever. His phone is ringing off the hook, and his work days are long. He knows this time of the year, every year, people need his help.
When they call, he can hear the urgency in their voice. He also hears their heartache, as they fight back tears. He says his heart goes out to homeowners as they explain what happened. Jay listens patiently, knowing it’s a distinct possibility he will hear a familiar story.
A tree has fallen on their house.
This father-of-two, raised in Tampa, comforts them and assures the voice on the other end of the line, everything will be okay. There’s no doubt, when it comes to trees in trouble, this guy is the guy.
Jay knows firsthand just how cruel mother nature can be, especially when it comes to trees.
“It can come down and it’s a threat, being inside not knowing what’s up there,” he told 8 on your Side.
Raised in a family of tree trimmers, Jay says he loved watching his grandfather, often asking questions about the Florida landscape, always anxious for answers. The passion ran deep in the family as they established a dedicated following at Albert and Ellis Landscaping.
Jay’s grandfather was meticulous and taught him from a young age many valuable lessons to keep in mind when starting each workday.
Do the job right, his grandfather would say.
Take your time, always have the right equipment and, above all else, treat people with kindness and respect.
Do your job with heart, he would tell his young grandson. Treat a person’s home as though it was yours.”
For the past seven years, Jay has run the family business, grateful to be among three generations of tree trimmers. “I will always try to help in any way I can. They call us and we are glad to be there,” said Jay.
The 37-year-old was on the job Wednesday in Temple Terrace, talking with a homeowner about a large, sickly tree, one that towered dangerously over the man’s house. After Jay did an assessment, he explained, in detail, what needed to happen.
The dead tree limbs need to come down. Now.
He told the homeowner he was worried about the dangers of this fragile tree falling during Dorian’s possible conditions. “It’s not safe,” Jay said. “This is your home, your family. It’s trees like this that take people by surprise. People don’t even realize they’re there. We just don’t look up often. We know they’re in our yard, but really, how many times do you ever look up?”
His gaze turned to the tree.
He said, “This tree is sick. I can see it. Look at the discoloration, that’s an indication something is not right on the inside,” Jay said.
With Hurricane Dorian continuing on its track to Tampa Bay, Jay hopes homeowners heed the advice from experts.
“We’ve seen dead limbs, huge ones, that fall on homes during a summer storm. And, that’s just an afternoon rainstorm This is a hurricane, I hope people take it seriously. We don’t want them to fall in someone’s home during the storm. Homeowners need to get rid of dead limbs now,” Jay said.
Many Tampa Bay homeowners are, indeed, fearful that Dorian’s strength will crack large limbs, weak from damage. Their biggest fear? The tree could come crashing to the ground, possibly injuring someone.
In fact, one tree along North Boulevard in Tampa is getting noticed. A lot. The towering tree is falling apart at the seams, literally splitting down the middle. “This tree needs to come down. I am so worried. The main thing is the safety of the public,” said Tampa resident Rick Tramontana.
Rick says he’s worried and waiting as Dorian gets closer, hoping this large landmark nearby get some treatment from an expert soon.
“It’s a hazard, it’s going to hurt somebody or kill somebody. I believe this is a dangerous tree, and it should be removed,” said Rick.