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Crews, neighbors work together to clean wind damage in Livingston

“It’s pretty sobering, thinking about how little we are and how big and heavy those things are..."
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Posted at 5:31 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 19:31:09-05

LIVINGSTON — Strong winds caused thousands of dollars in damage across parts of Livingston Wednesday and into this morning.

Crews, neighbors work together to clean wind damage in Livingston

Scenes with some form of wind damage could be seen throughout the Livingston community, especially at the intersection of 2nd Street and Geyser Street where a large tree ripped out of the ground and leaned up against the side of a house.

And just a few streets over, more damage like this continued.

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“I don’t remember the wind just being that relentless and strong,” says Vickie Roseberry, a fifth-generation Livingston resident.

In Livingston, Thursday morning brought with it the sound of chainsaws.

“There are trees down all over the place,” Roseberry says. “People lost power. I lost at least one leg of my power.”

Vickie Roseberry is one of several along Lewis Street.

As she slept, one of two 60-foot pine trees came crashing down inches from her home.

“I guess it must have happened in the night,” Roseberry says. “I can’t imagine I slept through it. I was lucky. You couldn’t have fallen that tree better.”

If it had been the other tree, Roseberry says the story would be different.

Both trees were there since the 1940s, planted by her great aunt and uncle.

“They were planted at the same time,” Roseberry says. “It’s going to be the same type of root system. This one cleared everything but that one would be into my house.”

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One property over, another woman narrowly escaped disaster.

Another large tree smashed her car, moments after she got out of it, damaging her truck in the process.

“It’s pretty sobering, thinking about how little we are and how big and heavy those things are,” Roseberry says.

“I think Livingston has been confirmed as the windiest city in Montana,” says Shannon Holmes, Livingston public works director.

Holmes says the amount of damages has brought city crews together with private crews and neighbors just trying to help.

“We had crews out as late as 10:30 last night, dealing with power issues and tree-related issues in Livingston,” Holmes says.

Holmes adds a recent stroke of luck helped set the stage for fast response, in the form of a grant.

“We were very fortunate to receive a grant through the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to spend $30,000 removing 40 to 50 ash trees,” Holmes says. “We actually had crews out on Tuesday and we removed 11 trees so we had all of our equipment and staff ready to go.”

While thousands of dollars worth of damage was caused, no injuries were reported.

Roseberry looks at the tree in her backyard and the totaled car next door, with neighbors helping to clean it up, and says that’s how the community of Livingston moves forward together.

“Mother Nature is a tough one,” Roseberry says. “Tougher than us. I guess we are just at the mercy of whichever way the wind blows and puts this stuff down. I feel pretty lucky, I guess, in a lot of ways.”

Holmes says if anyone else sees any damage, as there could be more throughout the community that has not been reported yet, be sure to call the Department of Public Works, as well as those who are looking to file claims for the damage.