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Hundreds of thousands of trees destroyed or damaged by superstorm Sandy

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 6:40 p.m.

NEW YORK — They fell by the thousands, like soldiers in some vast battle of giants, dropping to the earth in submission to a greater force.

The winds of superstorm Sandy took out more trees in the neighborhoods, parks and forests of New York and New Jersey than any previous storm on record, experts say.

Nearly 10,000 were lost in New York City alone, and “thousands upon thousands” went down on Long Island, a state parks spokesman said. New Jersey utilities reported more than 113,000 destroyed or damaged trees.

“These are perfectly healthy trees, some more than 120 years old, that have survived hurricanes, ice storms, nor'easters, anything Mother Nature could throw their way,” said Todd Forrest, a vice president at the New York Botanical Garden. “Sandy was just too much.”

As oaks, spruces and sycamores buckled, many became Sandy's agents, contributing to the destruction and causing several deaths.

And as homeowners and public officials deal with the cleanup, some tree care experts say the shocking force of the storm weeks ago might mean they should reassess where and how to replant.

Nina Bassuk, program leader at the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University, said “We have to replant better and do it smarter.”

For example, she said, shorter trees like hawthorns and crabapples should be planted below electric wires.

She also said a soil substitute can help trees extend their roots beneath pavement so they can keep their balance better in high winds.

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