Even the guys with the chain saws proceeded with caution through Wednesday's icy winter wonderland that downed trees and power lines all over York County.

Ronald James, who owns James Family Tree Service in Stoverstown, said he was preparing to clear some debris from a property early Wednesday when a large branch fell onto the home's roof.

"For safety reasons, I went home," James said. "I'm going to go out tomorrow and just basically go from one job to the next."

It'll be a busy day. James said he received more calls for help than he could count Wednesday.

He plans to work from morning to night Thursday, clearing York County driveways and backyards of trees and limbs that fell victim to a heavy coating of ice and snow.

JT Hand and son Brian, 14, deal with a chunk of an oak tree that came down in their Springdale  neighborhood front yard Wednesday.
JT Hand and son Brian, 14, deal with a chunk of an oak tree that came down in their Springdale neighborhood front yard Wednesday. (Bil Bowden photo)

"The ice is already falling off the trees, so, I think, other than limbs hanging in trees and then possibly blowing out overnight ... I think pretty much all the limbs are down now," he said Wednesday afternoon.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the phone started ringing off the hook at Amspacher Tree Service in West York.

"And they've been about a dozen to 25 an hour at least. It's been really crazy," said Louanna Amspacher, the secretary. "We just work, work, work."

When the workload is this heavy, Amspacher crews must prioritize the calls, taking safety into consideration.

"If it's on a house, that's first. If it's on a car, that's second. If it's on a power line, that goes along with the cars. It depends on if people can get out of their homes," she said. "And then we have trees in backyards that are down that aren't really hurting anything."

For tree-removal businesses, ice storms mean customers will inevitably be asking about the law. Amspacher said she frequently informs people of their legal and financial responsibilities when a tree or large branch lands on their property. Often, it's information they're not thrilled to hear, she said.

"If it lands in your yard, it's your problem, even if it's not your tree," she said.

James Richards, 51, of York City, took a peek outside his home about 1 a.m. Wednesday, and the situation wasn't looking good.

"There were a couple branches down already," he said.

Then, about 6 a.m., he heard a loud crash outside his home of eight years, at the corner of Wallace and Sherman streets.

"A couple pieces hit the roof," Richards said. "But it seems OK."

Richards said he called his insurance company, but was told he was responsible for clearing the branches and debris because the ice storm was an act of God.

"It's a lot of work," he said after spending about three hours on the task. Richards guessed he had at least another three or four hours of work left, including a lot of chain saw work.

Jim Gross, York City's public works director, said three city work crews and two privately contracted crews spent Wednesday trying to clean up the city.

"We had a lot of limbs down, and trees," he said. "There are some places where there are power lines (down), and we have to wait for Met-Ed to get there first."

The city's Springdale neighborhood — which has many large, old trees — was likely the hardest-hit area of the city, he said. Trees in the Avenues neighborhood also fared badly, he said.

Some parks, including Farquhar Park, were hard-hit by the ice storm, said Gross, who estimated city crews will need several weeks to clean up the parks.

He was more optimistic about the time frame for clearing sidewalks and streets of limbs and branches.

"Probably by the end of the day (Thursday) or Friday, we'll have most of this cleaned up and we'll be in good shape," Gross said. "The parks can wait."

A tree-clearing crew from Bartlett Tree Experts spent hours cutting up and chipping a massive maple tree that fell on the Bowser Center for Advanced Dentistry, 2161 E. Market St. in Springettsbury Township,

Brian Selby, bucket crew foreman for Bartlett, estimated the ice-covered tree — which damaged the business when limbs fell — was at least 100 years old.

Selby said it would likely take the entire day to clear the debris. Then, it will be on to other calls.

"We're going to be very busy over the next few days," he said.

— Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.