Tree crashes into Beach home during storm

[attach]6240[/attach]Stephanie Hutchison was asleep in her Beach home this morning when suddenly the roof collapsed above her bed.

A large oak tree in the backyard had come crashing down during a severe thunderstorm, hitting the second-floor bedroom of her Willow Avenue semi-detached.

Describing the scene hours after the incident, Hutchison, a ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, said her first instinct was to shield her 5-year-old daughter Charlotte, who was asleep next to her.

“I rolled over on her as the roof fell on us,” she said. The pair — the only occupants inside the house — were not injured.

Neither were her next-door neighbours Steve Nicholson and partner Ana Harcourt, who had been dozing in their basement bedroom when they saw a flash of lightning, and then heard part of the tree’s limbs come crashing through their rear wall.

“Even from the basement there was a flash, which is really bizarre,” said Harcourt on her porch hours later.

The impact of the tree was so strong that items on the wall of a second-floor bedroom came crashing down. Harcourt’s daughter, who had been asleep in the bedroom, also escaped injury.

[attach]6241[/attach]Authorities on the scene said the tree would likely be removed today.

It’s not the first time a tree has fallen on Willow Avenue during a storm.

Lois Parker, who lives across the street, recalled her own experience when a fallen oak tree caused damage to her property while she was out of town.

“These are old, old trees,” said Parker, as she helped Hutchison move her belongings out of the house. “It’s a hazard of having big, beautiful old trees.

“It will happen.”

Parker said it was lucky that no one was injured in this latest incident.

“The important thing is everyone is okay,” she said. “The rest of it is just bricks and mortar.”

City officials say a building inspector deemed the house unsafe, and no one will be permitted to enter until an engineer conducts an inspection.

[attach]6242[/attach]The early morning storm, which saw about 24 millimetres of rain fall between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., also caused road surface flooding in Kew Beach.

Photos taken by a local resident showed parked cars along Kew Beach Avenue half-immersed in water. Additionally, at least one resident on Kew Beach Avenue told the Town Crier her basement was flooded during the storm, as were her neighbours’ basements.