JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - “I’m scared to open up my front door,” Denton Bailey said while climbing under, over, and through tree limbs that fell during Hurricane Irma just to reach his house.
The roof and ceiling in his Ida Street home in Northwest Jacksonville have caved in after the storm. The two-story home is invisible from the street.
“That’s the city tree that fell down on top of my house here,” Bailey said while pointing to a giant fallen tree whose limbs, entangled with other trees, engulf his home.
“That’s a city tree! It’s on city property line,” Bailey exclaimed.
What has Bailey and his neighbors particularly upset is that they claim to have warned the City of Jacksonville on multiple occasions that the tree was dead, dangerous and could come down at any time.
“The city knew it was bad,” said retired Army Master Sgt. Wallace Mitchell who lives across the street from the downed tree.
He said he’s been calling the city for years about this particular tree. Mitchell said the city came out and marked the tree for removal several years ago, but never came back to finish the job.
“They tagged it, but they didn’t come back and take it down,” he added.
Jacksonville At-Large City Council Member John Crescimbeni told First Coast News he looked at city records that show two calls about tree issues in that block of Ida Street.
He said the latest was in March of 2016 and a city arborist determined the tree did not meet the criteria for removal.
The City of Jacksonville Public Affairs Office said if citizens believe their property was damaged by the City, they can report it to 630-CITY, who will then submit the claim to Risk Management. From there, Risk Management will reach out to that citizen to open an investigation.
Denton Bailey filed that claim and is now waiting to hear back.
FEMA is offering him a place to stay because his home is uninhabitable.