The Calm IN the Storm
Doing what needs to be done at the Hawk's Nest
“We’ve lost a tree in the back yard,” Linda yelled from the dining room. I was upstairs closing windows and couldn’t see the tree she was talking about. The racket of immature, rock hard, green, Grand and Douglas fir cones hammered the steel roof, accompanying a clamor of branches, some very large, banging on the top of our home. I was hoping nothing would puncture the roofing, letting in the cascading rain and fierce wind.
The wind was more extreme than any I had ever experienced, it looked like video I have seen of hurricanes.
Back on the first floor I walked past dinner cooking on the propane range feeling relief it was not electric since the power was flickering off and on.
Linda and I looked out into the back yard at the storm—the only thought that came to my mind was “epic.” From that vantage point I could see the Grand fir lying on the grass, a twenty-foot stump standing over it.
“There’s another one.” We watched another Grand fir land not far away, leaving a ten-foot stump. The noise from the harsh weather didn’t allow us to hear the crack of the snapping, ten-inch-diameter tree.
We had decided on an early dinner, probably on the north side covered porch. The storm had been predicted all day, and was blowing in from the southwest, so the porch would provide a protected place to enjoy the show.
As we were getting ready to eat I asked Linda what she wanted to drink; as expected she said water. Two were drawn and set on the counter ready to go outside.
However, the gale came quickly. With the howling outside and the loud din holding our attention, to say nothing of the cat’s attention, the dinner seemed to get forgotten. Sometime, as the lights flickered off and on, Linda turned the fire off while we watched the thunderstorm pounding our home in the woods.
I looked out the north side to see if anything had falling in that direction. The intensity of the noise on the steel and the rain battering our windows was not gusts but a constant, sustained pelting.
Then we heard a big noise. Loud crashing, wood breaking and the wind howled louder. I looked out the front again and saw nothing new.
Linda yelled, “!t’s back here.” Out the dinning room window I could see a horizontal Douglas fir below a forty-foot stump. It looked like we had been missed but a quick glance and we saw it had hit the roof and bounced onto the ground. The very place we often sit in the shade and eat. Linda was at the window first and just as I got there she said, “Our roof has been trashed.”
I headed for the stairs to see how bad the leak was. From the living room on the first floor I looked up to see broken ceiling boards, black felt paper, insulation and rain, lots and lots of rain pouring through a two-foot hole that had been ripped in the steel above the loft. Heading up, I started moving furniture and some storage containers we keep there.
Linda started up to help but as the space is tight I suggested she call State Farm Insurance. It was shortly after 5 pm so her call went to a national number. As I moved boxes of pictures from the corner, the water coming in soaked my shirt, adding to the urgency to clear the area.
Interestingly, I noticed while at the task and in that urgency I was remarkably calm, even at peace. After the initial shock, we were both simply doing what needed to be done.
The power of nature does not choose to whom or how it presents itself, it is simply a combination of weather patterns that create the storm.
Linda said she needed to call a roofer who would come out and tarp our place. We could not think of any so she called a friend who removes trees. Ken at Specialty Tree told her to call Burke’s Klein’s DKI who does damage response and restoration.
All the furniture and storage was moved as she came upstairs and said a crew would be out in two or three hours. The floor and an area rug were soaked. She handed me a large plastic tub to put under the hole. It collected some but the wind and rain were slowing down considerably by then.
We went down stairs and removed the curtains from the room below. They were rather wet and would need washing due to water running through the ceiling. It looked like there was a little sheet rock damage where it had soaked through. There was water running down the log wall. And we were grateful the rain stopped as quickly as it did. The rest of the room looked okay.
Outside, the top of the tree rested on the log wall, but except for a little trim around the window, amazingly, did little more damage. There was certainly plenty of cleanup to do.
A look around and it appeared we had done all we could do at the time. In the kitchen, dinner was still on the stove. However, it was no longer an early dinner.
We looked at the front porch, it still looked like an inviting place to eat. So after reheating dinner and a couple of hours late, we were ready.
I grabbed the water, then set it down and said, “I’m going to open a bottle of wine. “ Linda added, “Yes, a nice bottle of wine.”
Shortly after we had finished dinner, the crew arrived about 8 pm and had us tarped and the interior checked out by 11pm that evening. They also left a drying fan that reminded us of the gale force winds that we had survived earlier that evening.
The insurance adjuster was out the next morning and we were on our way to having everything back to the way it was before—sans three trees. We know it could be awhile before it all happens. This storm impacted many people much worse then it did us. Our hearts and thoughts go out to each one of them, and we are thankful for all we have.
Ernie Hawks is the author of “Every Day is a High Holy Day: Stories of an Adventuring Spirit.”