I was home alone. I had just returned from a conference in North Carolina and my parents were on vacation in the Outer Banks. I had spent Sunday evening, Monday, and part of Tuesday with my best friend, Steven, and my little sister and her family. We'd spent a lot of time on my parents' large front porch, having no idea it would be gone on Wednesday evening. They all left Tuesday, and I went to work on Wednesday, June 11. I picked up a pizza on my way home from work, and was watching a movie and eating pizza when a bad storm suddenly blew in.
(pictures of the house before the tree saga)
In the middle of the storm, my mom called and as I was chatting I heard a lot of noise. The phone got disconnected and the lights started flickering like crazy. Sparks started flying. I smelled burning, so I flipped the breakers off, and called my mom back on my cell. As I was talking to her again, I looked out the basement window which is by the garage and saw a couple of tree limbs down..... one on my dad's pick up truck, and one beside my car.
I stepped outside and looked up the driveway to see a tree lying across it. I realized right away that it had to be the big 80-foot, 10 feet around the base tree that had been standing beside the house. I proceeded up the driveway to see the tree lying on what was the porch. I had to break the news to my mom that the tree had fallen on the house.
I called off to work, and told them it might sound like a made up excuse, but a tree was in my driveway and I didn't know if it would be out of the way by the next day. They believed me.
My dad called Paul Myers, a guy from my church, and he rounded up another guy from church and they came with chainsaws to get the driveway clear. A few other guys from the neighborhood and church showed up and soon the driveway was open so I could get out and my parents would be able to get in the next day when they cut their vacation short.
When the tree fell, it knocked the electric line running to the house - and the phone also - but the electric company wouldn't re-attach it until the thing was fixed on the corner of the house was fixed, so Dad called a man from church who is an electrician, and he came the next day, Thursday. I helped him, handing tools and steadying the ladder, and he got it fixed in a couple of hours.
Then my parents got home around 4 pm. They seemed a bit shell-shocked. The house looked worse in person than in the pictures I had posted on Facebook.
The tree stayed on the house for a few days because we were afraid if we took it off, the insurance company would give us a hard time... but it turned out that they wanted it off so they could better see the damage,
A man from our church has an excavating business and brought down a huge crane and a smaller one to take the tree off of the house. They would attach to the tree and saw off sections and load them in a dump truck, instead of pulling it off all at once.
This took a few hours, but finally the tree was off of the house, and the larger pieces had been hauled away.
Once the tree was off, it was obvious there was more damaged than just the porch. There was a lot of structural damage to the front of the house and the roof.... the tree fell against the front of the house in addition to the porch. And a lot of electronic items were fried from the electric shoring out..... the central a/c, the refrigerator, the stove, clock radios, video game systems..... and on and on.
And thus began weeks and months of dealing with the insurance company.
Meanwhile, several young guys and some adult guys came from church to get rid of the smaller limbs that cluttered the yard. We gave any that was firewood worthy to a lady from church, and the boys got pizza out of the deal.
Then finally, the work started to fix the house. First the rest of the porch was taken off, and what was under the porch - part of the basement - had to be redone. It was cement block and some had gotten knocked off and there were big cracks in the walls, so the old block was torn out and new put in.
Then came the time to do the real work. Since there was so much damage, the whole front of the house was gutted. It had never been big enough, so with a lot of number crunching and savings, my parents decided to take the house out to where the porch was, giving them 8 extra feet, adding needed space to very small rooms. The upstairs got in addition got a lift.... it had the ceilings that came down low on the sides, and were going to get 8-foot ceilings instead.
Since my bedroom is in the basement, I could stay, but Mom and Dad couldn't. Their bedrooms and the living room were going to be gutted and completely redone...... so they moved some stuff into the dining room - Mom didn't want her dressers in storage - some things in the basement, and the rest in storage......this place was like an obstacle course for a few months.
The rear of the house was still accessible - kitchen, bathroom, and a very cluttered dining room that was so full we could not use the table. A piece of plywood was nailed over the doorway between the dining room and what used to be the living room. For the next few months, we lived out of the kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and the basement, which is furnished.
My parents first moved into an economy apartment at a motel about 5 miles away, but tired quickly of driving back and forth, so the insurance company got them a trailer to stay in. They were expecting a 29 foot trailer, but got a 39 foot trailer. It took up at least 1/3 of the driveway, blocking access to the garage, and forcing us to park our vehicles in front of it while it resided in the driveway..... but my parents were right here, which made it more convenient for them.
The next few months were fun-filled (not really). Carpenters, dry wallers, plumbers, insulation guys, electricians, and more. And lots and lots of dirt. I didn't think the house would ever be clean again, but we slowly got there, and finally in October, my parents moved back in, with a few things still needing done, and the trailer departed.
As we got into November, the rest of the things slowly got done. The new bathroom upstairs got put in, carpet laid, trim and closet doors put up, and finally......it was done. (Part 2 has pictures of the results)
Me, in front of the infamous tree