Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tree House

A tree fell on my house last week. Two trees, actually. Here is what happened, to the best of my recollection...

It was a dark and stormy night, the rain came down in sheets of silver and the wind blew ferociously, howling, urgent and mournful. Suddenly, a tree fell on my house. Then another. The End.

Okay, there was slightly more to it than that. My son had crawled into bed earlier that night because of the foul weather and so I was sleeping light to begin with (he dreams at full tilt). Around 4:30 AM I heard a loud creaking sound, followed by an ever louder CRACK, which I assumed to be thunder. Then I heard the tornado sirens go off and noticed the wind was blowing rain in the bedroom window. I got up to close the east-facing window and during a split second flash of lightening, I saw a mammoth tree branch brushing up against my window. That branch had no business being up against my window. I was startled, of course, but had always figured the massive maple in my back yard would eventually lose a branch or two in a storm like this one. Not knowing the extent of the damage, I decided it would be best to move into the living room in case more branches came down. The tree was, after all, likely to fall directly on my bedroom should it come down altogether.

I woke my son from his undoubtedly heroic adventure and gently told him there was a storm and a tree branch had fallen so we should sleep in the living room. I leaned in to close the other open bedroom window, a south-facing window, and saw there were tree branches hanging from the roof over that window as well. That caught me off-guard, but didn't scare me. It made sense that a large branch could have been blown there as well. Another flash of lightning revealed more massive branches in the backyard, against the play house and as far down as the shed. Now I started to panic a little. It was very disorienting in the dark with no power, the wind blowing, rain coming in the windows, and a house that now must look like something out of Little Shop of Horrors. I hurriedly closed the window, picked up my son (no small feat) and moved to the living room, which is an east-facing room. That was the last straw. I looked out the front picture window and saw tree branches hanging down from the roof there as well. Keep in mind this meant my entire house was covered with...well, tree. I was sufficiently scared now that I had figured out the ENTIRE tree must have fallen on my roof. The tree was at least sixty feet tall and probably as wide. It was a monster that had shaded my entire house, my deck, and at least half of my back yard. It was, I thought, my friend.

By now my son was feeling my panic and so he started to panic. That actually forced me to calm down. "It's okay, honey, we will just sleep in the basement, that tree won't get us down there," I reassured him. We scrambled around for a flashlight (cell phones are pretty good substitutes) and made our way to the basement. I picked the spot that seemed least likely to crumble under two tons of tree (yes, it weighed that much, at least) and we huddled there together, under a blanket, talking about what an adventure we were having! Once the sun came up we made our way outside to survey the damage. Yep, the tree had completely uprooted, crushing the deck and landing squarely on top of the bedroom where we slept. I think the deck is likely what kept the tree from actually coming through the roof. It absorbed a great deal of the massive weight of the trunk and slowed down the fall. Another tree, an older, scraggly pine, had also uprooted and fallen aross my power and cable lines and landed on the roof of the garage. This was less spectacular yet still had an element of danger due to the proximity of the power lines.

Now the neighbors were out. The fire department was out. The opportunistic tree removal and roofing companies were out. We all stood around a for a bit, slack jawed and gaping, wiping sleep from our eyes and marveling at Mother Nature's wrath. Then, I did what I always do in crisis situations - I made some phone calls and took care of it. I had both trees removed, by crane no less, by five o'clock that day. I had a roofer out to patch the few holes to keep further rain damage from occuring, and I made my claim with my insurance agent. I also managed to get my hands on a soy latte, make a trip to the Metro State library, do a load of laundry, and have a couple friends over for dinner (they were still without power). In the end, all that mattered was that we were unharmed. Insurance will handle the damage, I will plant another tree. The adventure continues...

-Jenny, Undecided

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