Tree Splits Home; Family Counts Blessings
But to the Wes Graber family, who live on Co. Rd. 18-2 northeast of Pettisville, it was all too real.
Wes' wife, Pam said on Monday night, Feb. 23, she was in the basement watching the 11 pm weather report.
"The news anchors kept exclaiming about the high winds and the number of calls they had received about damage done by them and I thought, 'What's the big deal? It must not be as windy here because I don't hear a thing.'
"No sooner did that thought register in my mind, than, KAWHOOM! The earth shook and I knew a tree had fallen awfully near our house. From the sounds I heard, it was in the house."
Pam raced up the stairs, and saw a thick cloud of insulation dust and a log sticking through a hallway wall.
Before complete panic set in, her youngest son, Kyle, 16, walked out of his bedroom.
The tree struck the family computer room, next to Kyle's bedroom. Normally, Kyle would have been at the computer.
That night, he went to bed early and was in bed when the tree fell.
"We will always believe it was a God-thing that Kyle wasn't in there," Pam said.
The tree was a large red oak. While it looked solid, when the tree snapped about eight feet above the ground it was discovered that from there down, it was hollow.
Damage to the house was extensive. The solid portion of the tree hit on the peak of the house roof, breaking or cracking nearly 30 rafters.
All of the ceiling joists over the computer room were broken or completely gone.
Since the house had blown-in attic insulation, there was about three to four feet of insulation and other debris in the room.
"When the tree guy came to remove the tree from the house, he told us that we were fortunate the tree wasn't more green than it was," Wes said.
"If it had been completely healthy, its weight would have likely taken it all the way to our basement."
The tree stopped on the room's window casing.
Over the ensuing weeks, the Grabers hauled out 35 garbage bags of debris. It took three days to dig out their computers, and several more to remove the furniture.
"We cleaned as best we could, but insulation is a beast to get out of pretty much anything. I'm still finding it in corners that I thought I had cleaned," Pam said.
"Having the roof open also made it interesting to keep our house warm.
"Fortunately, we were able to close the door to the room once we'd cleared it. We were able to cover the hole in the wall with a blanket and tarp to try to keep the cold out.
"Unfortunately, our thermostat for the house is across the hall from the hole, so it seemed like our furnace was always running."
Because all the damage was contained to one room, the family was able to stay in the house during repairs.
They never lost electricity, even in the room that was destroyed.
The ceiling fixture hung by only its wires, but still worked.
The Grabers have been counting their blessings.
First they feel blessed that no one was hurt.
"We can fix our mess and put it back together," Wes said. "It puts everything in perspective when we realize it could have easily cost us our son."
Second, their church family helped remove the roof, brought meals, and provided a large part of the work crew when the contractor repaired the roof.
The Grabers took the opportunity to make some improvements along with the repairs.
"We made some changes to the original way the room was," Pam said.