Monday, March 11, 2002

Family away when tree crashes home


McSwains feel lucky they were at church

By Jennifer Edwards, jedwards@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The McSwains of Kennedy Heights didn't feel like going to their daughters' choir practice Saturday.

        But attending the 2:30 p.m. rehearsal at Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church may have saved their lives.

        While they were gone, Saturday's storm, which whipped through the state with winds exceeding 60 mph, ripped a 20-foot- high tree out of their backyard by its roots and flung it through a corner of their roof.

        The tree destroyed the kitchen and office in the Cape Cod-style home on Odin Avenue.

        As he waited for crews to haul away the massive tree Sunday, Lawrence McSwain, 41, said he hadn't been in the mood for choir practice, but now he praises God for his decision to go.

        “It was like God was saying, "Get out of the house,'” he said.

        Thousands were affected by Saturday's severe storm that tore through Ohio with powerful winds. Two men died, one in Reynoldsburg, another in Lorain.

        Sunday, utilities worked to restore power and property owners cleaned up after winds toppled trees, knocked down power lines and street lights — and even tipped over a fire truck in Youngstown.

        By mid-afternoon Sunday, 300 customers - of the 6,300 who originally lost power - were still in the dark from Middletown to Northern Kentucky to the Indiana border, said Dave Woodburn, Cinergy spokesman. Power was expected to be restored by evening.

        A branch also slammed through the roof of the home next door to the McSwains, where Patricia and John Thomas have lived for 14 years.

        Mrs. Thomas was sitting near her kitchen window when the tree slammed through the McSwains' roof. Panicked, she ran into the dining room and saw a branch through her roof.

        “It was like a nightmare,” Mrs. Thomas, 56, said Sunday. “I almost had heart failure... I feel like I have a temporary skylight now.”

       



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