Dallas Homes Crushed After Record Snowfall

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Dallas Homes Crushed After Record SnowfallJuliette Coulter loves her trees, but not when they invade her house. The Dallas resident spent three days clearing a huge Red Oak tree that fell on her home and into a bedroom ceiling after last week's historic Dallas snowstorm.

"Our house is U-shape, so when it split, one side hit the garage, and it woke us up as we had the tree cabled," recalled Coulter. "The cable snapped and one side fell on the garage. Then I looked into the backyard, and I saw the other trunk falling toward our bedroom window. That's when I ran down the hall screaming that the tree was falling and woke up all the kids."
The 11-plus inches of snow last Friday had most residents (who seldom see snow for more than a few hours) giddy at the prospect of a frosty white Valentine's Day weekend. But then came the aftermath: The record-setting snowfall was so heavy, it collapsed non-deciduous tree limbs from Live Oaks and Magnolias, damaged homes, crushed carport roofs. And as the tree limbs came crashing down, so did power lines -- leaving half a million affected or without power for 12 to 72 hours. The storm, the worst in Dallas history, is expected to cost at least $25 million in repairs to residents like Coulter who sustained roof and home damage.

Oncor, the city's main electric provider and troubleshooter, has also come under attack for the delays in restoring power that affected many neighborhoods. Some technicians reported vegetation resistance, where crews received flack from homeowners who didn't want their trees trimmed. One Dallas city councilwoman is calling for an investigation.

Most residents coped, some creatively: One woman used her computer's battery power back-up to plug in her hair dryer; others bundled up in 40-degree homes, cooked on gas stoves and were grateful for formerly ornamental fireplaces that could finally be put to use. Many headed to the only hotels they could find with heat -- north of the city in nearby Plano,Texas. And if a home on the market did have power, one Realtor said that was a huge plus at weekend open houses.

Some home builders are wondering if the new Dallas winter might change the way Dallas homes are constructed. Most homes carry roof load limits of 10 to 20 pounds per square foot in the Mid-Atlantic states, which is normally sufficient for a standard Texas snowstorm. (Twelve inches of snow would be equal to about five pounds per square inch on the roof. But the weight could increase with multiple storms.) Building standards may not be upgraded for a once-in-a-lifetime storm, but most Dallas homeowners say they plan to keep their beloved trees trimmed away from their homes.

Just like some Dallas roofs can't hold the snow, not all Miami condos are built with heat.
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