Tree Slices into Home

Tree Slices into Home

At around midnight Thursday night, Patricia Cuchillas was awakened by a loud noise. The wind stirred up by Hurricane Isabel had uprooted a tree in her front yard and sent it crashing into her neighbor’s house on Red Leaf Court in Reston.

“And then my brother came up and he said the other tree’s going to fall and the next thing you know the tree was on top of us,” Cuchillas, 24, said Friday, as she stood outside her house looking at the trunk that had sliced through her house like a knife. “It was horrible.”

When the tree fell, all the occupants of the house had sought refuge in the basement. It fell right on top of Cuchillas’ brother’s bed minutes after he had left it.

“I thought it was going to take that house too,” she said pointing to another neighbor’s house that had been spared from most of the damage.

Six people were in the house at the time, including several relatives who were visiting from El Salvador and a sick child. Cuchillas’ parents weren’t home at the time, she said. They were stuck at their jobs at Dulles International Airport all night.

NEIGHBORS, insurance agents and contractors milled about Red Leaf Court Friday afternoon to assess the damage. Cars and trucks were parked three-deep at the end of the cul-de-sac. Two neighborhood teenagers tossed a football back and forth.

Chris White, repair division manager for the contractor Purofirst Mid-Atlantic, was managing the clean-up on Cuchillas’ neighbor’s house. He said it generally takes a couple hours to remove a tree from a house and a couple weeks to make the house habitable again, although the full repairs may take longer than that.

White said his company had received calls about damaged houses from all over the region, extending as far as West Virginia.

“This is definitely a spike, so to speak, in the business cycle,” he said. “Northern Virginia just got stomped. So far no loss of life, no injuries, it’s lucky.”

Nelson Ruvio, Cuchillas’ cousin, said the family had lived in the home for about five years.

Cuchillas said her family would probably have to spend a few nights in a hotel.

“We’re not quite sure yet.”

<1b>— David Harrison