If you live in Ireland, there is a likelihood you at least noticed the impact of storm Ellen, both on people and wildlife.
For us in Galway, the impact was big.
We found out when, after a night of howling winds, we rushed to take some ill animals to the vet.
The first hundred yards of road was covered with branches. They kept getting caught in the wheels. As we went on, the damage became more evident. Trees had fallen on power lines. Every large tree we could see was even slightly damaged or fallen. Telephone lines had snapped like twigs.
The first road was blocked by a mighty ash right across it.
The second was blocked by a beech over a hundred years old.
The third was blocked by several huge branches.
As we began making our way in a fingers crossed manner across the fourth, there was a rumble of thunder in the sky and rain began pelting down again. It actually felt a bit like one of those weird panicky dreams, stopping to push away fallen branches every two minutes in the freezing rain, with lightning flashing and the wind howling and ill chickens clucking madly in the boot.
We decided to turn back. It could be dangerous if a weak tree toppled in another gust. But of course, we had no connection to phone the vet. No power either.
Directly around us, this state of affairs did not last more than a day. The trees were cleared away. Power and connection was fixed (though it took longer for others).
But so many trees were damaged. Our neighbour said it was the worst storm in twenty years, and when trees have leaves in a storm, they pull them down like sails.
It was really sad. My Cauldron Tree has several major branches broken off him. I hope he will survive. The ash and chestnut brothers will hopefully feed each other nutrients, the chestnut is hugely damaged. Our sycamore tree has broken sideways. Our neighbour’s apple trees, three times the height of a man, have come down fruit and all.
And the trees have also damaged the property of people. Those who have trees very close to their houses could be in danger.
I noticed that trees in groups were barely damaged, if at all. It is those without companions who are most likely to fall. Trees need company too!
We should replant even more trees to repair the damage. But we should plant them in responsible places. Don’t just put trees in places where other types of natural habitat thrive. Don’t put trees that will grow to be big in unsheltered spots alone or close to dwellings. You could be risking their lives – and your own.
The right trees should grow in the right places. Why not take part in a tree planting session this winter, or try to repair those that are damaged.