LAKEWOOD, Ohio — For nearly 40 years, Penny Pridemore’s family has lived in their home on Spring Garden Avenue in Lakewood. She said the tree in their backyard has been there much longer than they have.
“That tree is probably around 200 years old. The trunk of it, the main base of it, is about 8 feet around. It towers 200 feet tall,” said Pridemore.
Pridemore said, for as long as she can remember, she’s had nightmares of a big storm causing the tree to fall on their home. Wednesday evening, her nightmare became a reality.
“I was standing there looking at it saying ‘you’re a strong tree,’ the next thing I knew, the base of the tree, the thickest part was twisting and then I just watched it break into two different sections and then the top fell on top of the house,” Pridemore said.
She said for a terrifying few minutes, she stood in fear as the ceiling of her childhood home collapsed around her.
“There was nowhere to run. I had to wait until it all stopped falling and then I could finally run out of the house,” Pridemore said.
She was at home with their dog and two cats. The dog and one cat made it out, but the other one she couldn’t find, she suspects she is in the basement hiding.
“She’s terrified. We couldn’t get her,” said Pridemore.
Her parents were out celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary at the time of Wednesday’s storm.
“Thank God my parents were not there,” she said. “They were Downtown celebrating their anniversary and they got a call from me saying, ‘Get home! The house is trashed. The tree fell on it.'”
The downed tree didn’t just damage their home, but their neighbors' homes on both sides of them, too.
“It’s damaged and devastated at least three families,” said Pridemore.
Acting Lakewood mayor Brian Corrigan said after assessing all 3 of the homes on Spring Garden Avenue, the city had to order them vacant.
“All three structures are unsafe,” he said.
Corrigan said the aftermath of the storm left the city looking like a war zone with downed power lines, debris, and trees causing widespread damage.
“Between police dispatch and the fire department, they have been prioritizing calls ever since the storm happened,” he said. “It’s going to be a long night for the fire department.”
He said safety officials are working as efficiently as they can to clean up.
“It makes me proud to be from Lakewood and be a part of this team,” said Corrigan.
Pridemore doesn’t know if their home is salvageable, but does know that things could’ve been worse.
“I think we will be alright,” she said.
The Pridemore family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for the damage caused to their home. CLICK HERE for details.