Storm clean-up in Carmel underway, BBB warns residents about “storm chasers”


A car get smashed following storms on May, 16, 2019.

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CARMEL, Ind. – Thursday’s storm has kept clean-up crews busy the past 24 hours and there is still much more work to do. The Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana has reminded homeowners to be careful who they hire to help fix the damage.

The BBB said “storm chasers” will head to neighborhoods hit the hardest, looking to play off a homeowner’s emotions following storms.

“They will be there really sometimes within minutes after a storm will hit,” said president and CEO, Tim Maniscalo.

On Friday, the city was filled with utility trucks making repairs and trailers hauling away chopped up trees.

Maniscalo said homeowners need to remember to be patient while looking for someone to hire and watch for warning signs of someone who might not keep their word.

“Don’t panic,” Maniscalo said. “You will get your house fixed, but it doesn’t have to be fixed right away. Watch for people who come knocking on your door, and maybe they have an unmarked truck, they don’t really have a card, or way to contact them, you don’t really know who they are. If they ask for money upfront, that’s a real warning sign that they may not be back.”

He added it’s always best to contact your insurance provider and talk to them about what is and is not covered, and talk about your deductible. The insurance provider will tend to help guide the property owner through the necessary steps to find the right company for the job.

David Strong’s street in Carmel was filled with several tree removal companies Friday morning. He said it’s hard to know the details about each one.

He ended up working with Vine & Branch, Inc., an accredited business with the BBB.

Strong and his family were home when the storm hit and blew two trees over in his back yard. He said the family went into the basement, and then remained on the ground floor until they felt safe to go back up to the top floor.

“Never seen the winds come though like that or anything,” Strong said. “Then we have two big trees come down. We never had anything like that in the neighborhood before.”

Catherine Hollibaugh had gotten out of her car about 30 minutes before the storm hit Thursday afternoon. She said she tends to decompress for the day once she’s parked. The storm smashed through her vehicle minutes before she headed back out for the gym.

“I was really lucky that the timing was right,” said Hollibaugh. “Thank God I was not in that car.”

The tree not only totaled her vehicle, but it also ripped a whole in her neighbor’s house.

Jud Scott, the owner of Vine & Branch, said he has 20 jobs in Carmel and 10 in the Indianapolis area already lined up. He estimated Carmel would need two weeks to get all the down trees cleared.

“Some people are going to remember this storm a lot more than others,” Scott said. “In a couple weeks, we will have customers say, ‘hey why haven’t you gotten our work done,’ and we’ll say, ‘well, we’re cleaning up the storm,’ and they’ll say, ‘what storm’ because they were on the other side of town or something. The folks around here are going to see (the damage) quite a bit.”

Scott said he has seen a lot of down trees with super-saturated roots. Many trees victim to the storm include evergreens, blue and Norway spruces, and old silver maple trees. He added trees with some decay were also more easily knocked down from the wind.

The City of Carmel has laid out several options to help homeowners clean up the damage. They are:

  • DISPOSING OF LANDSCAPE DEBRIS: The City’s trash and recycling program already includes the ability to dispose of up to 20 extra bags or bundles of landscape free of charge during the months of April and May; and in the fall, from October 15 to December 15.  These bundles must be cut into lengths less than 4 feet and tied. This program is for living/once living landscape waste only.  No trash, construction debris, rocks, soil, etc.
  • REMOVING FALLEN TREES: If you have a large tree that has fallen, you will need to contract a tree or landscape company to cut up and dispose of the tree. Our City crews have moved privately owned trees that have fallen into the public streets, but the owners of the trees are responsible for cutting them up and arranging for their disposal.
  • NEED A DUMPSTER?: If you have large amounts of landscape debris, you also have the option of contacting Republic Services to have a dumpster delivered to your home and landscape waste including tree trunks and other trash can be placed in the dumpster. You do not have to cut the landscape waste into specific lengths. If it can fit in the dumpster, you are good. Because of the storm, Republic Services has reduced the cost of the dumpster for Carmel residents as low as possible.  Neighbors or a Neighborhood can share a dumpster.  For rental information including pricing, call Republic Services at 317-917-7300.
  • IMPORTANT NUMBERS: For information about the special landscape waste pick up, call Carmel Utilities at 317-571-2442.   For information about renting a dumpster, call Republic Services at 317-917-7300.

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