Lightning Strikes: The story of two friends and a home nearly destroyed by lightning. (Series 3)
During the first walkthrough of the main level of their home after the fire, the place just looked a mess. The stench of smoke lay heavy in the air there were blue tarps everywhere and the kids’ rooms, as I recall, just looked like typical, messy kids’ rooms. The damage on this main floor consisted of some water in the living room, dining room, and front entry. The blue tarps covering the furniture were sagging in places from collecting the dripping, fouled water. I could see the plaster on the ceilings beginning to release in spots, but it wasn’t completely falling down. During these first moments inside the house, I could feel and hear my friend, the homeowner; her energy was very tense and she was audibly both shocked and devastated. With as much empathy as I could muster, I turned and asked, “Are you ready to go up?”
Because the power had been cut by the fire department, and the remaining upstairs windows had been boarded for safety, we used flashlights. Our first order of business would be to retrieve any important papers we could find – insurance policies, bills, family files, old photos, business papers, and important books. I believe I led the way up the stairs, although I was not prepared for what I was about to see or smell. I quickly covered my mouth and nose with part of my shirt; it actually hurt to breathe that air!
The second floor of the old house was mostly open space. At the top of the stairs as we entered the main room that once housed their office and den, a bathroom was on the right and on the left it was a very short distance to the bedroom door. The lightning had struck the large front dormer at its peak just above the second floor ceiling in the master bedroom. There is no attic in this home; it was built so that the roof rafters carry both the roof sheathing and the ceiling of the second floor. Between each rafter was loose insulation.
The area hit was directly above the bedroom and bed. Charred and burnt timbers surrounded a significant hole where the roof had once been, and an approximately 8’ x 8’ section of the roof was gone. It was hard for me to take a good look and carefully observe the damage, because I could only hear my dear friend behind me, in shock and repeating, “Oh my God, oh my God.” At that point, I did the only thing I could think to do. I asked her to narrow her focus to only one spot at a time. “Look only to one spot at a time… if you see something you need, we will grab it and get it out.” Her only reply came through her tears: “Oh my God, oh my God….” And so it went. We grabbed and gathered, moving forward only a few feet at a time in the office. Behind us was another helpful friend who took things from us or at our direction and ran them outside to the sun to dry and to hopefully be salvaged. We proceeded methodically step by step, desk drawers, desk top, book shelf by book shelf until we reached the bedroom, where there was literally nothing left that could be saved. Her first visit home after the fire was behind us, and the first steps of a long journey had been taken.