Before....                                                       ...After












continuing... Saturday, September 24, 2005. 
walking home
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Meteorologist George Flickinger's Storm Chasing Pictures and Southern Plains Forecasts
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Click the photo for a larger image. Here's a 100 foot pine across the front of the house.
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The "before" and "after" pictures above simply look like a tree on a house. But there was substantial damage to the roof as another tree in the backyard crashed through and into a second floor bedroom.  The house is repairable. The trees however are reduced to childhood memories.

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The usual two minute walk down Hart Avenue took ten minutes. We parked down the street and Mom stayed behind with the car while I surveyed the damage. I navigated, ducked, stepped over, and stepped around trees, power lines and other debris.

I finally got to a clearing and could see the house from afar. The house looked ok at first as the roof had survived. Or had it?

I walked closer. Uh-oh, where did all the pine trees go? Three were standing, but there should be many more.

I got closer. Uhm, what's that  on the roof? What are
those on the roof?!

I crawled over a large pine tree and found myself standing directly in front of my old house. What would Dad think of this?

There were no fewer than four huge pines in the yard or leaning on the house. On the southeast side, two smaller pines angled against the roof and balcony. A huge pine somehow plopped across a giant oak in the front yard, remaining nearly perpendicular to the ground.

I walked to the backyard, and it got worse. Actually it took some work to get in the backyard as tree debris lodged in the gate.  The grass disappeared under pine needles, limbs, pine cones and roofing material.

The worst damage: the largest pine tree on the property fell through the northeast corner puncturing the house.  Limbs dangled from an upper bedroom. I triangulated the tree's height at 140 feet long.

A slightly smaller 130 foot pine crashed into the other side, the northwest roof. It pierced the roof then fell straight down. The resulting drop crashed through the patio, pushing bricks into the back door.

We cleared debris so we could claw through the bricks to enter the house. The kitchen floor was flooded, and the ceiling was soft due to water damage. Because of water damage, the inside of my house actually looked worse than the outside.

The smell of East Texas pines greeted me upstairs. Part of the wall exterior wall had separated-- that might be a huge problem. Inside the first bedroom a large tree limb cut though the roof.  Limbs lodged in the ceiling fan. Insulation and sheetrock piled several feet deep. The old wood furniture and flooring were still wet.

And of course Mom had a new, unwanted 200 square foot skylight. Climbing into the attic, emerging sunlight illuminated a dozen smaller holes in the roof.

To somewhat prevent future water damage I moved furniture out of the room and placed the ruined mattresses on the floor to hopefully act as sponges.

I nailed several tarps to the wall trying to reroute any additional rainwater out the balcony doors. Obviously professional tree removers would need to clear the roof.

I sweated away for two hours making emergency repairs. I also took some of my father's old paintings.

The total damage bill for the house was about $85,000.

Insurance would cover the financial impact of Hurricane Rita, but the beautiful trees and wildlife which make Orange, Texas, the jewel of Southeast Texas were the biggest loss.
My other family members suffered much more damage. Both my aunt's house and my sister's homes in the county were "totaled". Aunt Thelma's home was sawed in half by falling trees.  What was left of my sister's home in Little Cypress has since been bulldozed.

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We stayed in Southeast Texas for two more days reporting on the aftermath.

But there was some good: while in Orange I rediscovered old friends wherever I went-- I knew some of the police and fire staff. I interviewed the county judge who's daughter was my high school homecoming date years ago. When my careful navigating got our news satellite truck stuck in mud, my high school friends pulled us out with their F-250!

After several days with no meals we were fed by the Orange Fire Department. 

We drove back to Oklahoma on Monday bringing Mom with me. Mom lived with my wife and me for a week, and I survived that experience!

Electricity returned 3-4 weeks later for Orange County. My old high school, then #2 ranked West Orange-Stark resumed its football season  playing day games as the stadium lost light poles during the hurricane.

Though my Mom's home will never look the same, the city of Orange continued to rebuild and grow, and I'm proud to call Orange, Texas my hometown. Thanks for reading.
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Front view of home. This pine reoriented the chimney on the way down.
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Backyard view...The pine tree on the house was nearly 100 years old, and stood 140 feet tall. Click photo for larger image.
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View from the backdoor. Orange smells like a Christmas Tree farm.
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My Mother clearing a small path toward the backdoor. This tree in the foreground bounced off the roof before landing here.
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Second floor bedroom photo
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We didn't need a new skylight, but Mom now owns several. I took this photo in the attic.
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View from the attic of small holes in northwest roof created from the falling pine.
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A 130 foot tall pine hit the northwest roof, then fell to the ground.
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After my careful navigation got our satellite truck stuck in mud, my old high school friends helped out!

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STORY CONTINUES below the photos.
My old house would've escaped major damage if not for the trees!