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Lawton resident says City of Lawton responsible for falling trees

Lawton_Trees are falling down in Turtle Creek in Lawton, and some residents say that it's the City of Lawton's fault.  They say that the city came in and dredged the creek behind their yards, chopping the roots of 30-foot trees.  One homeowner says she watched in horror as one of the trees came crashing down, destroying her fence - all that remains is the stump.  Now, she and others are worried that even more trees will come crashing down and perhaps even destroy someone's home.

Nicole Hancock, the homeowner whose fence was destroyed, says she is out a lot of money, and the city should pay - she says it not only destroyed her fence, but also her trampoline.  As a result of the tree roots being severed, she says that other huge trees are now leaning into onto power lines, fences, and homes. 

Hancock says the trouble began when the City of Lawton dredged the creek in her neighborhood.  She says that it seems that workers cut the roots to the big trees.  She says she contacted the city after the tree crashed onto her property and was told to complete a tort form for reimbursement of damages.  "The fixing of the fence and removing of the tree cost me $400," she said.  "The trampoline cost me $200, and my deductible for my insurance is $500." 

Hancock has yet to complete the form because she says her insurance company told her not to - that the City of Lawton is liable.  However, she says it isn't the money that she's worried about anyway - she says it's a matter of public safety.  "It happened that we had Senator Barrington walking through the neighborhood, and I showed him the back yard, and the tree line, and he called the electric company." 

Hancock says the trees were threatening power lines, and once Barrington phoned Public Service Company of Oklahoma, they came out to trim the trees back.  However, she says the problem is still there.  "In some ways I'm lucky because it only took out my fence and trampoline," she said.  "But, in a lot of my neighbors' houses - if you look down that way - when the trees hit, they're going to land on the houses."

She says she has not heard from the City of Lawton yet, and although she went to city hall in person, she has yet to hear back.  Meanwhile the trees remain the same - bowing and leaning more each day.  The city says that in some cases they are not permitted to go behind fences and cut trees located on private property.  Lawton Public Works Director Jerry Ihler says they plan on investigating the situation.

You can count on 7News to keep you updated.

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