That’s the sound Shirley Belair heard at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, as she made her way from the dining room to the living room of her home at 1214 11th Ave. N. in Princeton.
“I thought a bomb went off,” Belair said. “It was a big bang that stopped me dead in my tracks.”
Belair was hearing the sounds related to a lighting strike that caused a tree in the yard of Vernon and Shirley Belair to literally explode and send flying pieces of tree shrapnel into the Belair home.
Vernon Belair couldn’t help but hear the big boom, too, he said. But what he and his wife didn’t notice was an 8-foot piece of their giant shade tree shooting through their front bay window and landing on the couch.
“It must have gotten lost in the commotion,” Vernon Belair said.
The big piece of tree concerned the Belairs, however, because it was resting in the exact spot that Shirley Belair sits while watching TV — something she would have been doing a minute later. She said she thought the tree would have hit her right in the neck or chest and seriously injured her, if not killed her.
The piece of tree wasn’t all that damaged the house. Glass, branches and leaves were all throughout the living room. A window in the Belairs’ bedroom was broken and tree shrapnel was on their bed. A lower level window was also shattered, leaving behind a roomful of debris, Vernon Belair said.
The tree was not only a twisted mess in the Belairs’ front yard, it partially blocked 11th Avenue North. City crews were dispatched to remove the tree from the roadway. The damage also prompted a late-night visit from Service Master, which came out to board up at least three windows on the front of the Belair home, Vernon Belair said.
Because of the shards of broken glass, tree limbs, branches and leaves that filled the Belair home, the home was declared uninhabitable. Vernon and Shirley Belair were forced to relocated to the AmericInn in Princeton on Tuesday night. They were considering a Wednesday stay, as well.
Service Master was back early Wednesday morning to begin the clean-up process. Shirley Belair was hoping the carpet in the living room and bedrooms would be replaced.
“There’s little glass slivers everywhere. I don’t think I could ever go barefoot in the house again,” Shirley Belair said.
Vernon Belair thought that was something the insurance adjuster would approve.
“They always say stay away from the windows when there is a storm,” Vernon Belair said. “I never really believed that, but I sure do now,” he said.