Tree of Life: July Storm 2014

On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at 1 a.m., a straight wind, we think a tornado, hit Berkey Avenue in Goshen. This storm took out the electric for the church and the neighbors as a number of power lines were on the ground. It did damage from the west city limits to Waneta Drive. Most of the damage was to the trees on the north and south side of the road. At about 8:30 a.m. people started arriving to help with the clean up. In that stretch of road Berkey Avenue had branches piled about 6 feet high covering the road. We helped the neighbors clear the road of branches. Three neighbors on the south side of the road had their driveways completely blocked. After the road was cleared we worked at clearing the driveways for the neighbors. From there we started cleaning up the property at the church and the house next door. Probably two dozen people showed up that day to help with the clean up. Several neighbors helped us as did a charter member who left BAMF 25 years ago. We worked all day cleaning up. A couple who were married only five weeks before, worked all afternoon. Her sister in law even came to help. There was a huge pile of branches stacked along the road in front of the church and the house property. Eight thirty that evening a crane, a bucket truck, and an 18″ chipper arrived to take down the large tree that was uprooted and leaning against the south side of the church as well as a large branch that was laying on top of the roof on the west side of the sanctuary. They took the tree down in pieces working till 10 p.m., after it was dark.

Wednesday morning a crew arrived to patch the roof where branches had poked through the roof. There were at least a dozen branches that were sticking through the roof and visible in the attic. Clean up continued that day. Several people from College Mennonite Church came to help members of their church who live next door with their clean up and they helped pull a lot of our brush up to the road for the city to pick up. Late afternoon the crane and bucket truck arrived to take down the large tree that was uprooted and leaning against the west side of the house. As they were taking it down in sections three men were trimming the branches and piling them along the road. The city had cleaned up all the branches that were piled there the day before. When we were finished we had an even larger pile of branches along the road waiting to be picked up.

Thursday morning a crew arrived to put a tarp on the house roof where the tree had damaged it.
A generator was provided for the church to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold. Electric was restored around 8 p.m. on Thursday evening.

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Thursday, Friday, and Saturday cleanup continued. Six pickup loads and six large trailer loads of wood were hauled off on Thursday and Friday. Another large trailer load of wood was hauled off Saturday. By Saturday evening we had most of the brush on piles. There were three large piles of brush north of the house. In addition to the two trees that were uprooted there were branches from about seven other trees that were on the ground. One tree was leaning, the ground on the west side of the trunk was raised about two feet. We cut that tree down.

There were lots of branches along the west fence row in the field north of the church that were on the ground. Monday several people worked all day and that evening thirty people came to help with the clean up. Again, another charter member who no longer attends BAMF came to help us. We rented a six inch chipper to get rid of the small branches. Probably ten people walked through the whole field picking up branches so the field could be mowed. Five or six people were running chain saws cutting off the small branches and cutting up the larger branches into six foot lengths for fire wood. Others pulled branches to the chipper and several put the branches in the chipper. That was all blown back in the fence row. We worked till around 9:45 p.m. that evening. Several neighbors came out to watch us work. One told us he was really glad we bought that property as we always keep it looking nice.

Tuesday morning four people worked from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. putting branches into the chipper, all the time while it was raining. The chips were blown on a trailer and were then put in the fence row on the east side to help keep weeds down. As soon as they were finished chipping branches it stopped raining and the sun came out. Tuesday afternoon the city dropped off a trailer for us to load with branches. About a dozen or so people came to help load the trailer. We cut the branches in small pieces, was careful how we loaded the trailer and then was on top of the branches stomping them down. When we had the trailer loaded we had only loaded about one tenth of the pile. We decided we would get the chipper Wednesday afternoon and chip all that was left.

One of the neighbors along Waneta Drive had a large branch fall on their property. We pulled all the branches over to the church house property to run through the chipper. As we were doing that a young man from the property next to it came out and helped us pull the branches. Then we cut up the larger branches into fire wood and moved them to our property.

Several people worked most of the day Wednesday so we could get everything run through the chipper that evening. We again had a good turnout of people coming to help. We had a trailer and a pickup truck that we blew the chips on and then spread them along the east fence row in the field.
We took several days off and on Monday, July 14 we finished cutting up the fire wood that was laying on the ground, loading it on a trailer, and hauling it off.

It was a lot of fun working with many people to get the job done. There were probably seventy people that helped with the cleanup. Thursday, July 17 we met with Aaron Kingsley to see what other trees that were damaged need to be taken down. We have at least four and probably five trees that still need to be taken down and a number of other trees that have a few branches that were broken off or still hanging in the tree that need to be cleaned up and branches cut so the trees won’t continue to decay.

When there is a need, BAMF responds very well. It was so cool to see so many people come out to work hard, sweat, get dirty, and no one complained.

Submitted by:Lowell Nafziger