08/28/11 — Trees down, power spotty across northern Wayne County

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Trees down, power spotty across northern Wayne County

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 28, 2011 1:50 AM

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Eugene and Sherry Rose had an unwelcome guest during Hurricane Irene. A front yard tree came crashing through their living room ceiling.

Eugene and Sherry Rose were in their bedroom Saturday morning -- awake, but not quite up yet.

Except for the torrential downpour and howling winds outside their Fremont home, it was very much like many other lazy weekend mornings as 9 a.m. rolled around and the two debated getting up and starting the day.

"We felt the house shake," Rose said. "And then I heard the glass shatter."

As he headed toward the middle of the house from the bedroom, he stopped at the top of the stairs leading into his living room where, instead of his furniture, there was a 6-foot wide tree jutting through his roof and into his home.

He looked up and saw sky.

The Roses were not the only Fremont residents impacted by the damaging winds of Hurricane Irene Saturday as the northern end of Wayne County from Fremont and Pikeville to Eureka was hit hard by the storm as it rambled up the East Coast.

Damaged roofs and trees, flash floods and fallen power lines were everywhere as the rain continued to come down sideways into the Roses' home, where they gathered their things and moved them into the kitchen, away from the gaping hole Irene had left in their ceiling.

The couple grabbed what they could from their refrigerator and headed to a nearby relative's house to wait out the rest of the storm. The damage to the house will be repaired, Rose said, but the hardest part of the ordeal was not having a place to stay to call their own where they could relax.

About an hour after the Roses' rude awakening, Ella Setliff, the Roses' next-door neighbor, heard a crash in her yard that jarred her as she sat in her home.

Peering out into her front yard, she saw that a downed tree had narrowly missed her house, taking down the gutters above her front door and landing dangerously close to her black Ford Explorer.

Hoping to avoid any damage to the car, she moved it from the front driveway to the other side of her house, where shortly after 1 p.m. a tree from across the street fell, taking power lines with it, and coming to rest, again, just feet from her SUV.

Mrs. Setliff is no stranger to hurricane damage, though. Fran left 15 trees in her yard when she lived on N.C. 222, and Floyd's floods forced her and her husband to move in 2002.

By mid-afternoon, the rains and winds had died down a bit and neighbors were out surveying the damage came to examine a massive pine tree that fell across the road in their neighborhood, blocking the street to traffic and taking down power lines.

Dan Blanchard, the property owner, could only watch as a few teenagers climbed on top of the tree that had once stretched skyward, now lying across the street in a mangled mess of power lines.

By then, they had all heard of the tree that forced its way into the Roses' living room just blocks away and had seen the countless other limbs strewn about the area.

There was almost a collective sigh of relief throughout the neighborhood, as those in the area had been spared injuries, and escaped the storm with somber stories of close calls.