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Rubber tree branch falls on preschool roof

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Workers repair the roof of Little Learners daycare and preschool on Queen Street (Photograph by Stefano Ausenda)

Children at a daycare centre had to be sent home early on Tuesday afternoon after a branch of an almost 200-year-old rubber tree fell on to its roof.

Katrina Knights, the owner of Little Learners Preschool, part of the tree landed on the centre’s roof at about 4.30pm.

“All we heard was a loud bang, a couple of our children — aged between three months and three years — cried, but most of them were well-behaved,” she added.

“We immediately asked their parents to come and pick them up.”

The branch of an Indian Rubber Tree at the junction of Queen and Reid Streets, which collapsed on Tuesday afternoon (Photograph by Stefano Ausenda)

She said that nothing inside the building was damaged as a result of the incident.

City of Hamilton staff roped off the scene and began removing the tree from the roof shortly after it fell.

Ms Knights said that workers did not finish until after 11pm.

“Dwayne Caines, the City’s chief executive officer, also stopped by to help,” she said. “He was very apologetic and sympathetic to our situation.”

Ms Knights was told repairs would finish by the end of yesterday, so that the school could reopen today.

Andrew Bermingham, from the Bermuda Historical Society, said that the rubber tree was planted in 1847, by the then-postmaster general William Perot, whom the nearby Perot Post Office is named after.

The Corporation of Hamilton said that “thankfully no one was injured”.

A team of 25 workers blocked off the scene and assessed the damage for five hours after the cottage was evacuated.

“Corporation staff, along with a private contractor, went through the painstaking task of removing the broken branch from the cottage,” said a spokeswoman.

“An independent structural engineer was brought on site to assess the building and identified that the cottage was still structurally sound but with some damage to the roof, which has since been repaired.

“The City recognises the inconvenience that was caused and is doing everything within its remit to remedy the situation as soon as possible. The City teams are working to ensure that the business opens as soon as is practical and safe.”

The City chief executive spoke with the property owners after the incident, voicing “concern” about getting the school back open.

“The City has also engaged its insurance company as there were several motor bikes parked in front of the cottage that were damaged. Barricades will be in place to ensure safe access to the National Library during opening hours,” added the spokeswoman.

“An arborist will be on site early on Thursday to assess the tree, which is of great historical importance, something the City is keenly aware of.

“There has been no decision made to remove the tree. The City will continue to liaise with industry professionals as well as local conservation organisations to ensure that the best decisions regarding the tree are made.”

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Published May 04, 2023 at 11:49 am (Updated May 04, 2023 at 5:42 pm)

Rubber tree branch falls on preschool roof

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