A Braddock District family found the true spirit of their neighbors around the holiday season when a seemingly healthy, tree somehow uprooted and crashed through the upper floor, narrowly missing their daughter.
While the insurance agents and contractors work on the house, rebuilding the family's home of 10 years, neighbors offered them use of their home, another neighbor is taking care of the dog and other neighbors are lining up meals for them. To top off their good fortune, a house around the corner, sporting a "For Sale" sign, will be their new home for a few months. The sellers agreed to rent it until the work is done on the damaged house.
"Almost everybody on the block offered to take us in," said the wife. In the interest of protecting the safety of their property, she and her husband asked that their names not be used. "People just reach out, that's the beauty of this neighborhood " she said.
The husband knew it was a tightly knit community. "We totally expected it, we've always known we had great neighbors," he said.
Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) is familiar with the community.
"The neighborhood where this happened is a very warm and supportive community. This situation certainly does demonstrate that," she said.
On the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 1, the couple's 15-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter were in the den, while the parents ran some errands. Out of nowhere, the tree crashed through the ceiling and wall on the upper floor, partially collapsing the ceiling to the den. Some debris landed on the 9-year-old, but she wasn't seriously injured. They called 911 and the mother's cell phone.
"A piece of ceiling was on my daughter. Nine-one-one, I don't know how to thank them," the wife said.
An upstairs bedroom was completely demolished as well as the roof, but the tree stopped just short of a stained-glass window that was made by a local artist. That window will always have a special place in the family's home.
The family is Jewish and they were in the middle of celebrating Chanukah. Their menorah was left unscathed, though a neighbor covered that base as well.
"A neighbor bought us a menorah and candles," the wife said.
THE TREE remains a mystery. It was an older tree that was uprooted completely, pulling roots and earth along with it. The past drought may have had something to do with it they felt.
"It's a healthy tree, I had an arborist look at it," she said.
The husband estimated the tree as 60 feet high. He stretched out his arms fully.
"It uprooted, the whole tree. I could get my arms half way around it," he said.
Now other neighbors are worried about their own trees.
A neighbor dropped by to see how things were progressing. Within a few days, the insurance company had the house sealed up, the tree was put through the mulcher, a temporary roof was erected and a blue tarp sealed all the open areas so no water could get in. This was before the snow of Dec. 5.
"It was traumatic enough to see the tree sticking through the house in the back," the neighbor said.
Although their house was a temporary disaster and their lives uprooted for a few months, the family realized that it could have been worse. By the neighbors pulling together and helping out, the family does not have to move to a hotel, the dog didn't have to go to a kennel and the kids were able to continue school.
Bulova got involved when the family called for her assistance to transfer their email account which was through Cox Communications.
"They asked if I could intercede," she said