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Community comes to the aid of an 80-year-old Boca Raton after trees block her home

Posted at 11:46 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 17:52:37-04

UPDATE:

People in the community jumped into action to help an 80-year-old woman who says she doesn't have the means to remove two downed trees now overtaking her home.

After WPTV reported her plight, more than half a dozen people called asking how they could help. The city of Boca Raton told Carolee Pellerin Wednesday it was her responsibility to clear the trees, not theirs.

Pellerin thought that because the trees were rooted in the swale, it was the city's job.

Thursday morning several chainsaws were roaring as volunteers stepped in to help. Among the men helping were firefighters with Boca Raton Fire Rescue; they gave their own time after seeing Pellerin's story on WPTV.

"I'm so grateful," Pellerin said. "To have the firefighters come, not even knowing that they were coming, they're just here---makes me have heart."

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EARLIER STORY:

A NewsChannel 5 viewer came to us saying the city of Boca Raton is responsible for cleaning up two downed trees from Irma that lie across a resident's driveway, trapping her car in the garage. 

The city says not so fast. We went to find answers. 

“It’s like living in a tree house,” said 80-year-old Carolee Pellerin, whose lived in Boca Raton since 1966.

Pellerin has arthritis, hip replacements and walks with a cane. 

“I live on Social Security ... it’s crazy. What am I gonna do?” she said. 

The tree is down in the swale -- an area between the sidewalk and road.  Because of this, Pellerin doesn't think it's her problem, and the city is responsible for the cleanup. 

“I think the city should take care of it. I think they have the manpower, and they have the equipment. They should come clean this up,” she said.  

They haven’t so we asked Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie about the issue.

“The city code is extremely clear on maintenance of the swale area is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner,” she said. “This tree is very clearly in the swale area.”

Irma’s leftovers will lie here until Pellerin can find another way to clear her front yard. 

“I really feel like the city has let me down,” she said. 

Other viewers who saw this story on our social media pages have reached out to us saying they are willing to remove the trees for free. 

The story could have a happy ending after all.