A Marion resident is receiving help from her family and the religious community after her home was crushed by a tree during Sunday’s wind and thunder storm.
At 181 Marion St., the home of Frances Stoddard was struck by a tree as a result of strong winds and torrential rain around 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
“Nice mess, isn’t it?” said Stoddard as The McDowell News arrived on the property. “I don’t really know if it was a microburst or tornado that hit that tree, but it took it right out of the middle.”
The home, which the 77-year-old retired resident had lived in since 2014, had been crushed on the right side due to a large tree between her and the neighbor’s property splitting down the center and collapsing on the structure and across the porch. Observation of the yard on Tuesday showed the remains of the tree nearby and several stacks of chopped and sliced wood in front of and around the house.
“The funny part is I had just bought a wood stove because the snow storms we’ve had this year and sometimes the electricity goes out…and I said, ‘I’ve got to get some wood for this winter,’” said Stoddard with a laugh. “Just be careful what you wish for.”
Stoddard, the only human occupant, was not home at the time of the tree collapsing. Her pet cats had been inside the home amidst the storm incident, with all but one surviving.
“She had been sick, and I don’t know whether the trauma of that noise is what killed her or not, but she died that day,” said Stoddard.
Since Sunday, whether or not the home is suitable to occupy has been in question, with Stoddard living in a hotel for the last two days and receiving assistance from her son and members of the Jehovah’s Witness community.
“There was about 10 of them yesterday that did all the cutting and there’s still a little bit left to do on that tree,” said Stoddard. “It was so big; they were trying to cut it without getting hurt. All the neighbors have been stopping by to make sure I wasn’t in here when it happened.”
Stoddard also confirmed she received at least two offers from friends to live with them.
“I would rather stay here even without electricity to take care of the cats, but I don’t know if the inspector will let me,” admitted Stoddard, who said she would hear more details during the day.
A glimpse inside the home showed a large chunk of the roof missing in the corner of the structure – with plastic in place to keep the remaining pets from escaping – and a coffee table covered in books and reading material that had been soaked during the storm.
“My friends are coming this afternoon, we’re gonna try to put a tarp over the roof to protect it when it rains this week,” said Stoddard.
Despite the damage to her home and the loss of her pet, Stoddard maintained a direct, often reflective mood.
“I’ve had many adventures in my life,” she said, “and this is a new experience.”