Too close for comfort

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Century-old Mason Street tree toppled in storm

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

It was a close call, or perhaps “divine intervention,” but whatever the case, it was a frightening night for Robert and Lynn Briggs. 

The couple, minutes earlier asleep in their bed, missed being impaled by a tree branch by just a few feet. 

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At first there was the mounting winds, flickering lights and then a cracking sound. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

With that sound the Briggs were up and out of bed in seconds – and just in time. 

The branch plunged through the ceiling and to the floor at the foot of their bed.

Their puppy, still in its crate next to the bed, was unhurt. 

The line of severe thunderstorms that blew through Isle of Wight County in the wee hours of Monday morning caused the Briggs’ ancient white oak to topple over from its roots, leaving a tangle of branches and tree trunks on one side of their North Mason Street home in downtown Smithfield. 

Their son Vaughn’s 2004 Mustang suffered a crushed roof from one branch.

The Briggs’ had planned to take their son’s car to him at college this week, as it was spring break. 

Lynn said it was certainly a mess, but the branch missing the bed, perhaps, “divine intervention?” 

Then again, “it’s not exactly how I planned to start my spring break,” said Lynn. 

The couple called the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department to check out any structural damage, but other than the hole in the roof, the house was fine, said Lynn. 

Now begins the calls to the insurance company and a tree service. Turns out the tree was five feet in diameter, according to Lynn. 

Meanwhile, small critters fluttered and scampered among the twisted branches. 

“I have a lot of confused birds this morning,” said Lynn. 

The storm caused some power outages in Isle of Wight and Surry counties, according to Dominion and Community Electric.  {/mprestriction}