ATLANTA -- Neighbors on Charlotte Place in West Atlanta had been eyeing the tree for days. With a cracked base and an increasingly steep lean, they knew it was only a matter of time before the tree came crashing down.
Their predictions came true Thursday morning.
Jerry Miles was in his living room when he heard a loud noise. He came outside to find tree branches across part of his roof. The bulk of the tree missed his house; he was unharmed and his home mostly unscathed. The tree fell into the road and took out several power lines, leaving the area without electricity for hours.
It was a close call that neighbors say could have been much worse. Catherine Franklin said every day for the past week, she watched the tree lean closer and closer to her house.
"When you came down the street, it looked like a big arch because it was touching the tree in my yard," she said. "That was actually the only thing holding it up."
The tree sat on the property of Holsey Temple CME Church, across the street from Franklin and Miles' homes. Head trustee Harold Hester said the church received an emergency permit from the city last Thursday to remove the tree, and started looking at contractors.
But they reached a road block when they were repeatedly told the surrounding power wires made removal too dangerous. One contracting company suggested they contact Georgia Power to help.
"I informed [Georgia Power] how dangerous it was over these power lines, and he said it's on private property, and they do not take down trees on private property," Hester said.
11Alive spoke with a Georgia Power representative Thursday, who confirmed that is indeed their policy. But he said the company did put protective covers over the wires to make it safer for whoever did remove the tree.
Hester said by the time the church sorted through contractors, the earliest removal date would be Friday - one day too late. He called their situation an emergency and believed the city and Georgia Power should have stepped in.
"If it was that dangerous, let's take it down and figure out who's gonna pay for it later," he said. "But this is something that should have been handled immediately."
In an emailed statement to 11Alive, Atlanta parks director Doug Voss said the city gave the church emergency removal authorization within two hours of learning about the situation.
"Property owners are responsible for trees on their private land," the statement read. "After an emergency authorization is granted, it is then the responsibility of the property owners to take action."
Hester said the church's insurance company will likely take care of the damage to Lewis' home.
Anyone with a potentially unsafe tree should immediately contact the city at 404-330-6150 for a removal permit.