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Triangle residents clean up downed trees, crushed roofs after strong storms

Posted May 12

— Residents around the Triangle worked Friday to clean up downed trees and crushed roofs after severe storms blew through overnight.

The storms knocked out power to many people for hours into Friday morning. Outages peaked Thursday night when more than 10,000 Duke Energy customers were in the dark. That number included 6,400 in Durham County, 4,300 in Wake County and 254 in Franklin County.

Many customers had their power restored by noon on Friday, though about 300 were still waiting.

In Durham, a large tree fell and crashed into a home on Vickers Avenue. Parts of the home's brick front had crumbled and could be seen in the front yard.

Walker Frost, the owner of the house, said the tree crashed into his son's room, landing on his bed. At the time, his son was at his grandmother's house.

"I'm the happiest man in the world to have a tree on my house," the owner said. "My family's safe, and if my son had been in there when this tree landed, it could've been a different story."

Frost said he's talked with his insurance company and that all of the damage will be covered.

"It's going to be a headache, but it reminds me of the things that matter," Frost said.

As for inside his home, he described the damage as "chaos."

"There is drywall and insulation everywhere. There are rafters shattered across the floor. I just thank God (my son) wasn't in there," Frost said.

Timothy Robbins, an operations manager and master arborist for ArborMax Tree Service, said the tree in Frost's home is a "nightmare situation for an arborist."

"Generally, a tree is going to rest primarily at one point, a house or another tree," Robbins said. "This has multiple pressure points. I’ve been to Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Isabel, when I was a young man I went with my father to Hurricane Andrew. We’ve been doing this for three generations. This guy right here definitely poses as much of a challenge as all of those trees. I’d say it’s in the top three as far as difficulty."

Another tree punched its way through the roof of a sunroom at a home in Raleigh's Stonehenge neighborhood. The owners weren't in the home at the time, either—they were next door at their neighbor's house.

"Our other neighbor was running around looking for us to tell us that our chimney had been hit," said homeowner Karen Mills. "Then we say that, and realized it was a lot more than the chimney apparently."

Mills says she is thankful that she and her husband had decided to hang out with other neighbors at the time the storm hit.

"We were blessed. God blessed us, I'll say that. Put us in the right place," she said. "We wouldn't been hanging out in the room the tree came down on."

Lori Keravuori, a friend of Mills', said she's thankful no one was hurt.

"When I saw on Facebook this morning, I knew how lucky we were," Keravuori said. "I needed to come out and giver (Karen) a hug and tell her I'm sorry."

Lattie Hunter, a tree cutter with HNH Tree Service, said Friday has been busy.

"Ever since I woke up this morning, it's been hectic," Hunter said. "People have been calling us. It's more debris, limbs out of trees than trees falling over."

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