Residents relay storm stories

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 4, 2009

Storm damage is nothing new for Jeff Doremus.

With all the patience of Job, the First Baptist Church associatepastor maintained a smile Sunday morning as he surveyed the hugepine tree that lay across his garage, storage shed and the cornerof his home on McNair Avenue. He joked with friends from church andcontractors as cold rainwater trickled into a metal mixing bowl onhis living room floor.

No need to get excited, Doremus said; he’s seen this before.After all, Sunday marked the fourth time a tree had fallen onto thehome.

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“Frankly, there’s not a lot you can do about it,” he said. “Youcan get all upset and mad, but that doesn’t help the situation. Aslong as we can repair the things that need to be repaired andnobody’s hurt, it’s all good.”

Since the Doremus family moved into the home at 501 McNair April 2006, the house has been struck by three falling trees.Each one exacted damage.

High winds from Sunday morning’s storms blew down a pine tree,which missed crushing his home length-wise by a few feet, fallingparallel to the home and onto the storage shed. Doremus said hishome had only recently been repaired from another tree-on-houseincident in January, when Lincoln County’s last snowstorm madeanother tree too heavy to stand and sent it diving for thehome.

Even before the Doremus family moved into the house, it took itsfirst hit from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Then, a huge oak treesplit the house in two.

“I think it’s probably time to remove a few excess trees thatare on the property now,” Doremus said. “There’s a point in timewhere you just have to say, ‘Uncle,'”

Doremus wasn’t the only homeowner in harm’s way Sunday when asevere thunderstorm passed over the center of Brookhaven around10:30 a.m. The strong winds lasted only a few moments, but tookdown trees and damaged homes all around the city.

Erica Wallace, 26, caught up to Doremus’ record in onesitting.

Her home at 515 McNair Ave., two houses down from the Doremuses,collected three trees at once during Sunday morning’s storms – onefor each week she has lived there.

Wallace said she had just finished painting interior walls andceilings, laying down new carpet and installing new fixtures sincemoving into the home less than one month ago on Easter weekend.

“All my work has gone to waste,” said Wallace, who was on callas a nurse at River Region Medical Center in Vicksburg when sheheard her house had been struck. “But as long as the insurancecovers everything, I’m OK.”

Wallace’s little sister, 21-year-old Allyson Wallace, was stillasleep at big sister’s house when the trees came crashing down.

“The whole house shook, including the bed,” she recalled. “Thedog started barking, and when I went to get out of bed, I felt itagain. It was ridiculous.”

Just a short distance across the city, on South Street, ChrisReid was about to take the baby and run before a tottering treethankfully fell in the another direction. Reid was at girlfriendBlythe Jinks’ home Sunday morning, babysitting her 2-year-old sonLayne, when a large tree in the back yard began to sway in the highwinds.

“It looked like it was going to fall on the house at first,”Reid said. “So I grabbed Layne and was getting ready to run, butthen it kind of bowed up and fell the other way.”

The tree, which Blythe Jinks said she thinks has stood there formore than 100 years, ended up crushing the wooden storage shedbehind her house, also flattening a deep freeze and an antiquechest-of-drawers Reid was storing there.