Chester couple witnesses miracle during Irene’s wrath

During Hurricane Irene’s rage a week and a half ago, a Chester married couple witnessed what they say was an “absolute miracle.”

It was at 4:30 in the afternoon on Aug. 27 when Cathie and Mike Richardson, who were sitting in recliner chairs on opposite sides in the living room of their log home, had a large tree fall directly between them. In 23 years living in the home, which is surrounded by similar trees, they had never experienced any damage of this sort.

Seconds after hit happened, Cathie jumped up frantically from her chair and screamed. A large plate of sharp glass, which belonged to an elevated window in the room, then fell down seconds later in the exact spot where she had previously sat.

Other than a few very minor injuries, the two were able to leave the room unharmed.

“We were otherwise unscathed. It’s an absolute miracle because the logs kept that tree from coming any further down,” she said. “It was a seemingly healthy tree, but the log house is what really saved our lives.”

Neighbors who heard the tree fall then ran over to them and offered help, ultimately helping them to safety. They then did their best to salvage what they could of their belongings in that portion of the house.

The tree, which they figure is about 100 years old, is to be removed this week with a crane. Built in the 1970s, they say the house is considered condemned; however, the back side of the house, which they say is most of the house, is fine. It is now closed off from the rest of the house.

According to the Richardsons, homeowner’s insurance is paying for all the damage, and they will be living in a rental home in Chester until the reconstruction is finalized.

Mike, who has a self-proclaimed “love affair with trees,” said that lover affair “is quickly dwindling.” He, too, agrees the houses’ sturdy, wooden structure is what truly saved their lives.

“If anything,” Mike said, “the lesson I’ve learned from all this is that we’re going to have to take down some trees.”

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