August 19, 2008


Tree limb damages Evergreen St. home

Thunderstorm knocks down branch on homeowner’s car, tears holes in his roof


Bob Ellis/staff photographer     
Dave Cox of Evergreen Street in Cortland looks over his crushed Chevrolet Impala in his driveway. A quick and violent storm passed through Cortland Monday afternoon, knocking a tree onto his car and house.

Staff Reporter

Dave Cox stood outside his Evergreen Street home Monday afternoon staring at the large tree limb that crushed the back end of his 1992 Chevrolet Impala and punctured two holes in the roof of his house.
The tree branch fell as a brief but severe thunderstorm rolled through Cortland around 2:30 p.m. Monday, just several hundred feet from another tree branch that fell between two homes on the other side of the street.
But as a third shift worker for a BorgWarner Morse TEC plant in Lansing, Cox had slept through the storm.
“I heard something but thought it was just thunder,” he said as he stared at the large tree on top of his car and across his driveway. “The fireman woke me up.”
When he awoke, Cox went over to his neighbor Mitch Bush’s house. Bush, a fellow third shift co-worker at BorgWarner, said Cox came over and said, “Hey can I use your phone, there’s a tree on my house.”
Bush joked that now he is not only his neighbor, but also his ride to work.
Cox, 36, moved to 70 Evergreen St., from Ithaca with his wife and infant daughter about one month ago and has not even paid his first mortgage bill. Now with water in his living room from a hole in the roof and a totaled vehicle, Cox is attempting to sort things out with his insurance companies and find out what he needs to do about the tree branch, which actually belonged to his neighbor’s tree.
“When we moved in we were actually worried about the tree in the back of the house,” he said, talking to a neighbor. “We never even thought about this tree,” he added, looking up at the tree on his neighbor’s property.
Cox said he assumes it was lightning that brought the hefty branch down on his car, which is not completely paid for.
According to Mitch Gilt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton, a couple of thunderstorms developed in Cortland County at about 2 p.m. Monday and lasted roughly two hours.
Between an inch and an inch and a quarter of rain fell in the center of the storms, while there were reports of three-quarter inch hail in the McGraw area.
Wind gusts of 21 mph were reported at the Cortland County Airport, but there were no reports of wind damage to the area.
Mike Buchalla, owner and operator of M.A.B. roofing and siding, said he was just down Wadsworth Street, a side street off Evergreen, doing scheduled roofing work when the storm came through.
“We sat in our job trailer with our knees knocking,” Buchalla grinned as he grabbed a ladder from his truck to do free repairs to the two holes in Cox’s roof.
“Out of the kindness of our hearts; I would hope someone would do it for me,” Buchalla added when asked about the free work.
He said with the penny-sized hail, high winds, thunder and lightning, he and his crew never saw or heard the tree branch fall just down the road. But as the storm passed, he and his employees got out of the trailer and saw the debris and fallen tree branch down the street.
Coincidentally, John Brainard, owner of Brainard Electric, was doing scheduled electrical work two houses down from Cox at the time of the storm.
“The lights started flickering and I never touch the wires during a storm so I was staring out the door watching the ice and said, ‘Mr. Jones how long has that tree been down?’” Brainard said, referring to Stephen Jones, the man he was doing electrical work for at 76 Evergreen St.
“Right when he said, ‘What?’ I was out the door and we had called 911.”
Brainard also helped Cox out Monday afternoon and worked for free to repair his electrical wires, which were disconnected from the home when the tree fell.
Several other areas in the city, including West Main, Front Street and Chestnut Street had power lines down from tree branches falling during the storm, the city Fire Department reported this morning.


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