Paul Perkert 
The day started out with mild overcast conditions. We were listening to the reports on the location of the storm and tracking it as it moved inland and to the north. I was out in the ham radio shack for a while, talking with a few people that were south of our location.

A little later in the day, when the hurricane touched land, I received some alarming reports on its intense conditions. This was brewing up to be a bad one; however, I have prepared for everything quite adequately, I thought to myself. The generator is gassed up, I have plenty of water and food, the gas jugs are filled, the boats are pulled out and stored in the middle of the property with the car and the van - ok, what can go wrong ? Little did I know at that time, what we would experience later on that day of September, 19th 2003.

As the day progressed, the winds increased in intensity and we would get periods of heavy rain - lots and lots of rain !! The total rainfall in this region was in the vicinity of 7 to 8 inches. As the storm moved north and into our neck of the woods, I could see how intense and powerful the winds were. The sustained wind speed was later estimated at about 115 to 125 mph. This was most evident. I was watching the storms progress on the TV and also looking out my front door, which faces south east, when I saw a couple of our large trees come down and crush the lawn shed and utility shed. These were trees that were about 60 to 70 feet tall and a good 18 inches in diameter. So the sheds didn't have a chance.

I hollered out to my wife that, " the trees are coming down," then went out to see if  I could do anything about getting started on cutting them up. This was a poor idea. We heard a couple of more ear splitting cracks in the wooded area. A couple of large pines, about 70 ft. tall, had cracked off about 1/3 of the way up the trunk and come crashing down in the woods. That is all it took. I put the saw away and got out of there, real quick. We then proceeded to go out to the van in the middle of the property and sit and watch all of this devastation. Tree after tree came crashing down. They just tipped over with their root ball intact. This was because of all of that rain that we had had a few days previous to the hurricane and the vast amount of rain that came with this storm. The ground was just too soft to hold those trees up. The trees that didn't tip over, were snapped off like breaking a pencil in two. And every time that happened, there was the ear splitting ''crack." 

We lost over 15 large trees. All in the 60 to 70 ft. range and 80 to 90 years old. I was counting the rings as I was cutting them up. The last tree to come down was a 70 ft tall gum maple and that hit the house and went right through the front bedroom. There were 5 large trees across the drive and it took me 2 days of cutting just to get out. We were literally trapped in our back yard. After I got cut out, it hadn't done any good because the streets were littered with large trees. We couldn't go anywhere anyway.

On the morning of the following weekend, the fello from down the road was heading home to check his place. He was coming down the road with a couple of friends who had large chain-saws and one who was driving a very large piece of farm equipment with a big bucket attached. They cut through the trees that were across the road and just pushed them aside like toothpicks, with that big piece of machinery. The road was then cleared off. We took a ride that day, to investigate the area and check out the damage. It was an alarming sight. The entire area was devastated. There were trees down, everywhere and extensive damage to many of the homes and out buildings. Trees cut through homes and cut them in half, roofs were torn off and blown down the road. There was just so much damage everywhere that it looked like a ''war zone." This was a very depressing sight.

We knew that it was going to be some time before we would have our utilities returned and get back to normal. Our water was returned on the 5th day after the storm and the electricity was restored about a week and a half later. Telephone service was not a problem - ours runs underground and was not effected.

Well, here we are two months later and there is still a lot of work to be done. The repairs on the house are coming near to completion and I have cleaned up most of the mess on our three acre lot. I have all those trees cut up and burned with the exception of the oaks. They are cut up in pieces and stacked on the side of the drive. Oak is an excellent fire wood and if anybody is in need of it, they can just drive in and help themselves. Not too likely until probably next year some time, needless to say! There is a abundance of wood in the area at this time.

So, the clean-up will continue in the wooded area, probably well into next year. Then there is the replacement of the damaged storage sheds and all of my amateur radio towers and antennas. They were crushed by two large oak trees - about $3,000 worth of damage there. I was in fact, very fortunate that nothing hit the shop trailer where my work shop and radio station is located. My wife also has her sewing shop in the front of this unit. All in all, it contains many thousands of dollars worth of machinery and equipment. We are most thankful that there was no damage to this trailer.

To sum things up, the clean-up goes on and we are thankful to have survived all of this without any loss of life. I hope none of you ever have to go through anything like this.

Thank you for reading my article.