Massive tree damages Seminole Heights homes

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Frank Roder and his partner moved into their Seminole Heights home in 1986. The towering live oak in the backyard has been around much longer; Roder estimates about 200 years.

“I’ve seen that tree go through several hurricanes, never had a problem,” he said.  “I was shocked, I kinda thought that tree would be around forever.”

All it took was a seasonal thunderstorm rolling through Wednesday evening.

Right now it’s not clear what exactly toppled the enormous oak, but Roder came back from dinner to find the five trunks of the tree had split apart.  The splintered wood fell across the roadway, took out power lines, and did a lot of damage to Roder’s property as well as two of his neighbors.'

“Two went across the street, and one went across in the back and smashed the house behind us, another one went on top of my garage, another one knocked my chimney over, and clipped the side of the house right on the edge of the roof,” said Roder.

Crews with the city of Tampa Forestry Department were out Thursday working to clear the branches and debris out of 9th Street. However, they had to stop because one trunk is leaning on Roder’s roof and another is across the garage.

Right now, Roder’s counting his blessings massive tree didn’t do more destruction.

“If it had gone three-feet to the right it would have smashed my house, and my house would have been gone,” he said.  “My house is 100 years old, and I sure as heck don’t want to lose it that way.”

One block of 9th Street between New Orleans and Louisiana Avenues is still shut down.

Roder tells FOX 13 News that crews will be out Friday starting to remove the tree from his house and garage. Once that happens, city workers can finish clearing the roadway.