Lightning Strikes: The story of two friends and a home nearly destroyed by lightning. (Series 2)
It all began one morning in August 2016, when I woke to the following email and photograph from a dear friend:
“So, this happened. Ugh. I really can’t believe it. We are with our friends, and we are all safe. And it’s clear we won’t be going home for a long time. The firefighters walked us through enough to grab some pictures, but they said to expect a huge loss. The roof is open and there is water everywhere. Lightning struck the house around 1am and our alarm went off and I was able to get everybody up and out. Our neighbors were amazing. We are alternating between utter gratitude that we are all ok and shock and tears about what is next and all the things that are lost. We will see what tomorrow brings. I’ve already called the insurance company and we’ll get the smoke and water people in tomorrow. Ugh. Love and prayers, please.”
As it happens, I am one of those people who doesn’t sleep next to my phone – it’s not in our bedroom, but rather downstairs charging in the kitchen. I do this so I am not tempted to check it in the wee hours of the night – otherwise, I am sure both my friend and I would have been up at 4 a.m. when I received the above message! Once I wrapped my head around the picture, I realized I had found myself in a situation where I needed to be both a friend and a businesswoman, and what company doesn’t want a huge remodeling project dropped in their lap!
My friends and I already had a budding business relationship, and they were hoping to save the money necessary to do a complete kitchen gut and remodel sometime in the near future. That project was a ways out, as the budget and conceptual design for such an undertaking in their 1920 South Minneapolis bungalow was not inexpensive. I immediately started to think about how to appropriately navigate this situation from both a friendship and a business standpoint. My friends needed a builder, to be sure, and they also desperately needed the support of the people who cared about them. It didn’t take long for me to shake out what I would give first – the support of a friend.
On this particular morning, I followed a solid adage by which I try to live: “Do the next right thing,” and I cleared my calendar of a key meeting. The next right thing for me was a drive-by and meeting with my dear friends at around 11:00 a.m. that same morning. They had shuffled their two kids, ages 5 and 9, off to school amid certain reassurances that “all would be well.” However, as we entered the house for the first time in the light of day, all was certainly NOT well. The place stunk, and the first floor plaster ceilings were dripping water through all of the light fixtures and newly discovered ceiling cracks. The fire crews had thrown plastic tarps over as much living room and dining room furniture as possible. God bless them, but they did this after pumping 20,000 gallons of water into the house, reminding one of the old adage about closing the barn door after the horses have already escaped! Their hearts were in the right place; they knew the ceiling and light fixtures would continue raining dirty water long after the fire hoses had been turned off, and they were right.