The ice storm of February 5, 2014 was the worst storm for tree damage that anyone in the mid-Atlantic area can remember, with more than half of all utility customers losing power. During the storm a large 4′ diameter Oak tree fell across Pinetown Road, Audubon, PA, blocking traffic. It took three days for the municipal authorities to clear the road of the tree leaving a monstrous tree stump perched precariously on the hillside above Pinetown Road. The stump was so large that when it uprooted, it damaged the water lines buried over 4′ underground. The Audubon Water Company was able to clamp the broken lines and reroute water to the neighbors from the homeowner’s supply, leaving the monstrous tree stump, next to the gaping hole it came from. Due to the size and placement of this stump up on a hill, neither the township, nor the Audubon Water Company wanted to chance removing this stump with large excavating equipment.
Randy Bernhard, of the Audubon Water Company says, “the homeowner, Mrs. Patricia Gavet, looked for a private company with the skill and equipment to remove this dangerous stump. After four other companies declined even bidding, saying it was too dangerous. Mrs. Gavin contacted Daniel Murphy of Stumpmunchers. Daniel claimed that due to his experience grinding stumps after hurricanes Hugo, Charlie, Jeanne and Francis, as well as super storm Sandy, he could grind the stump, but he would need to wait for the snow to melt because of the steep slope “.
Randy Bernhard, of the Audubon Water Company, insisted that the Water department have a crew on sight to protect the crimped water lines, that were holding back 5 million gallons of water. Once the snow had melted and the ground had dried, Stumpmunchers showed up to do the job. A last minute decision was made not to close Pinetown Road, which is a major thoroughfare, so water department employees stopped traffic while Stumpmunchers maneuvered their largest machine, a 90 horse power Rayco stump cutter, carefully up to the monster stump. With the machine balanced precariously between the steep slope down to the road and the large hole in the ground from the displaced root ball, Daniel was able to build a ramp from the grindings, tall enough to reach the top of the 8′ tall mound of dirt and roots above the stump. Audubon Water Company had placed supporting planks over the water lines to protect them. Stumpmunchers periodically cleared the road so that the traffic could pass.
Within two of hours, Stumpmunchers had ground 90% of the stump and root systems, allowing the water company to use a backhoe to pull out the remaining 2000lb. chunk of wood. Once this wood had been placed to the side of the road on flat ground, Stumpmunchers was able to easily grind it down to wood chips. The water company then used their backhoe to load and remove the excess dirt, debris, and tree roots from the stump. The water department then regraded the hill. The whole operation took about 3 hours with only minimal delays to traffic on this busy thoroughfare.
Because of the skill, experience, and equipment of Stumpmunchers a potential disaster was avoided and the water company was able to easily enact to the needed repairs. Mrs. Gavet, the homeowner was so pleased by Stumpmunchers professionalism in helping her get rid of this monstrosity in her front yard, that she gave everyone a big hug.