09/01/11 — Branch hits pillow where child was just sleeping

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Branch hits pillow where child was just sleeping

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on September 1, 2011 1:46 PM

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Stephanie Ross was looking out the front window thinking everything looked fine when a tree came down on her Mulberry Street home. A branch from the tree pierced the roof and speared her son's pillow. Fortunately, her son had gone downstairs when the branch came through the ceiling.

Hurricane Irene brought a near miss for a local Goldsboro family -- a fallen tree that could have taken away something much more precious.

Stephanie Ross recalls driving up and down Mulberry Street as a little girl and always imagining herself living in one of the large homes that sat beneath the canopy of majestic oak trees along the road.

Mrs. Ross admits that canopy is quickly fading away, however, as the old trees have submitted to high winds and old age, with the most recent example of a fallen tree coming right through her home.

Mrs. Ross' 7-year-old was sleeping in his bed Saturday morning as Hurricane Irene passed through eastern North Carolina. As the morning wore on, he climbed out of bed and headed downstairs.

Between 9:45 a.m. and 10 a.m., Mrs. Ross heard a loud boom. When she looked out her front door, everything was green.

"All you could see was green leaves," she said.

She went upstairs to evaluate the damage, and what she saw nearly brought her to her knees: a sharp and jagged branch about 6 inches in diameter had pierced the pillow where her son had just been lying.

"I was sick to my stomach," she said.

The large oak tree had also severed the top off of a utility pole holding a transformer at the corner of her lot at the intersection of Mulberry and Jefferson streets, so she found herself without power. Her husband was looking after rental property the couple own in New Hanover County, so Mrs. Ross found herself all alone with a leaking roof and an understandably panicked 7-year-old.

Except she wasn't alone.

"All I can say is I love my friends," Mrs. Ross said Monday as crews worked in her yard removing trees and attempting to restore power to her neighborhood.

A member of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. board of directors, Mrs. Ross received a helping hand from DGDC Director Julie Thompson and Paramount Director Sherry Archibald, friends of hers as well as Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan, who lives nearby.

The city employees helped Mrs. Ross set up buckets in her attic to catch the rainwater and to prevent further damage to her home.

By Monday afternoon, Mrs. Ross' yard had been cleared and her son was in Wilmington with her husband as her attention turned to getting her power back.

She smiled as she looked at the crews still tilling the land, incredibly pleasant-minded for a homeowner staring down repairs after a storm just a year after she performed extensive renovations to the old home.

"It's just the cycle of trees. They've got to go somewhere," she said, eyeing the canopy lining Mulberry Street.