When Hurricane Sandy blew through on Monday, all of us here in the mountains were laughing about the huge amount of hype the storm had received. We were under a blizzard warning and hadn’t seen more than a few flakes of snow. The predicted high winds had also not materialized. So, Joe and I went to bed, and although the winds were beginning to pick up, we had weathered a lot worse than what we were hearing outside the bedroom. The house wasn’t even shaking.
At midnight, the phone rang. Joe answered sleepily and then bolted upright. What?” he said. I could only hear his end of the conversation. He was saying things like, “You’re kidding me.” And “I never expected that.” Then he said, “We’ll talk about it in the morning,” and hung up. Here’s the next part of our conversation:
Me: Who was that?
Joe: It was Justin.
Me: Is everything all right?
Joe: Yeah, but the roof just blew off of his house.
At this point Joe had rolled back over to go to sleep and I was sitting bolt upright.
Me: What? Which part? Is it the part he’s under? Is he going to be all right? What if the house falls in on top of him? Did you tell him to come up here for the night?
Joe: (rolling his eyes) He’ll be fine. It’s over his bedroom, but there’s another floor and an attic between him and the roof. It’s not even raining or snowing.
Me: Yes, but the wind is still blowing. What if it pushes all the walls in? Now that the roof isn’t there to hold it together anymore, the whole house might fall in.
Joe finally realized that I had no grasp of how a house is put together, so he explained that the rafters were still on, it was just the tin that had peeled back and blown off into the river.His explanation didn’t soothe my jangled nerves. Like the robot on the old TV series, “Lost in Space” my brain was waving its neurons wildly and screaming, “WARNING, WARNING, DANGER, DANGER.” This was, after all, my baby, my first born, my son and he obviously needed more attention than he’d been given by his dad. I picked up the phone and dialed.
Justin: What mom?
Me: How did you know it was me?
Justin: Just an experienced guess.
Me: Are you all right?
Justin: Yes, mom!
Me: Should you come up here?
Justin: No mom. I’m fine.
Me: What if the house falls in?
Justin: Mom, the house isn’t going to fall in. I just called Dad to see if there was anything I should do. I’m going out and move my truck out of the way in case more of the roof blows off.
Me: Call me when you get back in. The tin blowing around out there might cut your head off.
Justin: (sighing) I’ll call.
To give my son credit, he did call and assured me that he would be fine until morning. That’s when I started praying for the wind to die down, and it did shortly thereafter, so I went back to sleep. If the two people who knew the most about the situation weren’t worried, then perhaps I shouldn’t be either.
The next morning, Joe called our local roofer and then we rode down to the farmhouse to see the damage. Justin was just getting dressed when we got there and he admitted sheepishly to me that he hadn't slept well. Then he and his dad pow-wowed about how to secure the roof until it could be re-tinned.
Since I was sure I couldn’t add anything useful to that conversation and maybe my hyper-worried state would cause me to ask too many annoying questions (after all, I’m the one who was sure the whole house would cave in) I walked down to the general store to see how everyone else in the county had fared.
The power had gone off in the night so Patsy, the store owner, had a generator fired up out in the parking lot. Everyone from our side of the mountain was gathered around the one functioning coffee pot in the whole county discussing the news. Although we had been spared the worst of the weather, and no one but my family had lost a roof, the western side of the county and the mountains beyond had experienced the forecast blizzard and apparently that’s why we were all without power.
Full of news, I bought a honey-bun for my son and walked back down the road to the farm. The men were now on the roof with several tarps and a bucket of roofing nails. Diddle, our roofer, had showed up and proposed this temporary solution until he could get enough tin and help lined up to complete the job. By the time they got everything under cover, my worry button had stopped beeping and my practical husband had found a silver lining. As we were driving home he mused. “Well, I was going to paint that roof this summer. Now, at least, I won’t have to do that section.”