Behind the mangled mess of tree branches and power lines is the entrance to this storm-damaged home. 

The tree - split open in Tuesday's storm - is leaning precariously on the house.

What You Need To Know

  • Residents of Clifton, Staten Island say they've called 311 more than 50 times in 20 years to complain about city trees

  • City inspectors told them the trees were healthy, despite private tree pruners saying they needed to be cut

  • The Parks Department told residents it can't cut the tree down until Con Edison clears away the power lines

  • Con Edison hasn't said when it will be back to clear the wires, leaving more than 40 families without power

It knocked out power the moment it fell, sending residents into the street to see what happened. 

When they saw which tree had fallen down, they weren't shocked.

Thomas McKenzie lives on the block. 

"These trees are over a hundred years old," he said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that these trees need to go."  

For more than 20 years, residents living on this tree lined strip of Clifton say they've been calling 311 to ask for the city to prune or cut down the city-owned trees that are planted here. 

They say they've called at least 50 times to make the same complaint, and have been told repeatedly by inspectors sometimes sent out that the trees are healthy. 

But residents have hired private tree companies to assess them, and say they're always told that the trees are sick and need to be cut down. 

"And now here we are, in the middle of something that could have been prevented," resident Vin Wade said

The city says no one is allowed to perform work on a city-owned tree except a Parks Department employee. Most violations are misdemeanors, but in some cases, damaging or removing a city-owned tree without the proper permit can result in fines up to $15,000.

"You get fined," McKenzie said. "You're facing a fine. So you can't touch. So it's either sit back and do nothing or you gotta suffer the consequences when there's a major storm." 

And that's exactly what's happening now: residents are powerless to remove the tree or get their power back. 

Con Edison subcontractors came out briefly Tuesday to see the damage and told residents they'd be back soon. But they haven't returned to fix the wires. 

Residents are frustrated. 

"I'm working remotely from my car," said Bobby Allende. "My wife had to go to a neighbor's house, but I'm a musician so most of my work comes through studio stuff, and I can't do anything." 

Allende is bracing for the possibility that this could be the case for a few more days. 

Until the power lines are untangled and cleared away, city parks officials cannot cut down the tree, leaving more than 42 families on the block in the dark, with Con Ed giving no clear sense of when the power might be back on.