I TEAM: residents unhappy with payouts for tree damage

CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM has uncovered new fallout from storm damage caused by trees which should have been cut down by city crews.

We’ve shown you the city of Cleveland is behind on taking down thousands of dead or dangerous trees.

We’ve reviewed several payouts from the city to victims of damage to a car and homes from those trees. But the payouts aren’t what the victims expected.

A year ago, a big tree blew into the house where Ronnie Foster lives on West 122nd. The damage came from a dead city tree that had not been cut down in time even though Foster says he complained about it. Now, the city’s Moral Claims Commission has approved a payout of $1500 for the damage.

Foster described the process saying, “It’s a joke.” He added, "It’s nothing I can do about it. It's take it or leave it."

The payouts just approved by the Moral Claims Commission ranged from $100-$1500.

City Council President Kevin Kelley sits on the Moral Claims Commission. He says the group tries to, at least, cover insurance deductibles. Kelley said, "But we try to be as fair to the homeowner as possible knowing that nobody gets as much as they want. But you know, we have to balance that against the city's budget."

Back in May, the I TEAM revealed the city way behind in cutting down dead and dangerous trees. In fact, behind by more than 5,000 trees. Across the street from where the big tree crashed into Ronnie Foster's home, neighbors say the city told them crews will get around to cutting down their trees in one to three years.

Frances Gibbons told us, "They said one-to-three year wait, and I'm on the top priority list."

The mayor’s office says the city has hired a private contractor to help take down the trees and help with the backlog. The backlog is now down to about 4600. City Hall says it can be tough reducing the backlog since more trees keep getting added to the list.

The City also says it only handles, on average each year, about 18 claims through the Moral Claims Commission. Those cases can result after property damage from trees, or vehicle damage from accidents with city vehicles, and more.

In the end, the damage and the process of filing a claim has left Ronnie feeling helpless.