Windstorm topples trees onto trailer

Switzer Village couple inside escaped injury, but didn't have home insured

Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Semona Lundy heard the wind that did all the damage, but the impact itself was minimal.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

"I could feel a big gust of wind start to brew," she said.

The National Weather Service Tuesday issued a high-wind warning, predicting winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, with gusts up to 70 mph.

While sitting in her living room, Lundy felt the Switzer Village trailer shudder.

"I had to grab the table," she said, but then all was quiet.

Tom Westvang, her significant other of 33 years, was sleeping in the bedroom where two of the three 12-inch diameter trees hit.

The shaking woke him, but inside the bedroom there was no indication that a tree had just crushed the roof. Westvang went back to sleep.

The trees hit at about 2:45 p.m., but it wasn't until Lundy's friend Laura Beck arrived to do some beadwork at 3 p.m. that Lundy found out what had happened.

Beck said she wasn't about to go inside, what with the trees balanced precariously against the top of the trailer. She whipped out her cell phone and called Lundy, who told her to come in out of the cold.

"You need to come outside and look at your trailer," Beck responded.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Lundy and Westvang stood in the cold wind outside the trailer with neighbors, trying to figure out how to remove the trees without doing more damage.

Switzer Village manager Bob Druley said he offered the services of the park's maintenance staff, but Lundy declined.

"We had a crew down there, but she refused our services," he said. "She wanted somebody who was licensed, bonded and insured."

The roofline where the trees hit looks crunched, but the trusses didn't give way. They still don't know how bad the damage is to the 1973 mobile home, but are encouraged by the fact that the trees didn't break through.

Lundy said she's afraid that the trees could fall the rest of the way down and destroy the trailer.

Trees near the trailer have been a concern before, and Lundy said she's asked for them to be taken down.

Now, she's worried about how she'll pay for the damage. She had to drop her insurance a couple of years ago because of cost.

"It was just getting too expensive," she said.

Druley said he's sorry about the damage, but it is not the park's fault.

"It is an act of God, it is the homeowner's responsibility," he said. "They own the mobile home and a tree fell on it. Normally, their insurance would pick it up."

Lundy and Westvang own the trailer, while the site is owned by the park.

Switzer Village is owned by S & S Development LLC. Company representative Charles Schnieder, who did not return a call to his Douglas home Tuesday.

The timing is pretty bad, however.

"I just paid it off last month," Lundy said.

Westvang said then it was going to be great not having to make payments.

"We were all bragging about it - oh boy," he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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