Triage*: the longer version


I guess it’s time for details. The tree fell sometime around 9 pm on Sunday night. We had gusty winds associated with a solid front (well-marked on the weather maps, anyway), but no rain—thankfully! We were in the back of the house watching TV, very close to the back door, and that was our escape path away from the noise/tree crashing into front corner of the house, although we didn’t know what part of the house was being crushed. Your brain tells you: big noise in the wrong place; move feet to transport body (ears?) away from that sound!

The electricity stayed on for almost two minutes (it seemed) before going out with dramatic fireworks at the pole by the street in front of the house. We later discovered that the tops of the highest branches (formerly highest branches, actually), had dragged the wire down enough to short out something important but not enough to bring them down to the ground. I guess the tree finally settled enough that we lost power.

Some of our neighbors had heard the tree fall, but with the lights out (and the looming darkness caused by the top of the tree on the ground), they couldn’t tell where the tree was!

As we tried to scout the house and figure out the damage, our soundscape was dominated by water, which my brain couldn’t process, but John’s did, figuring out it was coming from the pipes in the master bath, which had been mostly obliterated by the tree. One neighbor is a contractor and another is a retired fireman, and both were in the street, so I hollered down from our porch for them to please cut off our water if they could, as John talked to 911. They found a key and did so, but the water ran for almost 10 minutes, I estimate.

Eventually, maybe 25 people were milling in the yard, making sure everyone was okay, etc., all the best you hope for from your neighbors!

Unlike in 1991 when Tree Number One fell, we now have the iPhone and the situation has been oh so different. We stayed that first night at John’s brother’s, after removing hard drives and computers, and locking the doors. We’d already called the insurance people, and lined up tree removal people for the next day.

The tree guys came shortly after 8 am, and looked the situation over. Decided they needed a big crane to lift the main trunk off the house, which would limit damage. Ordered a crane, found out one could come that afternoon (Monday). The crew cleaned out enough so we could extricate the Prius (just flipped over 15K miles), and the dents are relatively minor, which is a miracle given that the tree’s limbs embraced the vehicle from all sides.

At that point my major stress came from: 1) not knowing how much damage we had to deal with, including how much more the house would suffer as the trunk was removed. This was a BIG tree, and 2) not being able to reach our neighbors by phone—the neighbors who owned the base of the tree.

When they finally returned home after a long holiday weekend, the 70-ton crane was busy and many people were standing on their lawn watching the amazing work going on. They were shocked to say the least.

Here’s the current situation. The tree guys finished the removal this morning (look at the diameter of the trunk!) and cleaned the yard before they left. Our landscaping plants look pretty droopy, but the hardscaping is undamaged. Or at least I haven’t noticed any. That mini herb garden I was planning to blog (brag?) about—wiped out.

John’s brother helped move precious crap to safer parts of the house, and to get the wet Persian (-like) rug we inherited from the Burns family home moved out of the dining room. We dropped it off at the amazing rug place before rush hour traffic got too bad; they’ve cleaned this family carpet before.

The tarp guys are removing some of the crap preparatory to building what is necessary to make the house shed water once again. We will be Blue Tarp People—or maybe there’s another color? They have capped the water pipes going upstairs and the water’s back on. They have isolated the upstairs wiring and JCB’s called Georgia Power and they will turn the electricity back on quite soon. Yes, today! Amazing!

* JCB coined this one; I borrowed it unashamedly!

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