Residents clean up damage

Published 1:44 pm Sunday, August 28, 2011

As Irene raged outside his home Saturday, Wilroy Road resident Don Nelson was trying to get some shut-eye in front of his television.

That’s when he heard a loud crack. He and his wife, Lonna, dashed outside in the wind and rain to find the source of the sound. Two huge trees had given way in Irene’s treacherous winds and plummeted to the ground, smashing through the Nelsons’ 25-foot shed.

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“I was watching TV and fell asleep and all of a sudden chaos broke loose,” Nelson said.

The couple’s shed crumbled under the trees’ weight. The branches also punctured holes in the roof and broke rafters in a back bedroom in their home, which the couple has rented for more than 20 years.

Nelson is kissing the contents of his shed goodbye, but he managed to save the most important possession he could have lost — his 5-year-old Great Pyrenees.

“(He) was my biggest concern,” Nelson said.

During the storm, the pooch was in a doghouse that Nelson built for him right next to his shed.

When the trees fell, they landed on the doghouse, and Nelson made his way into the tree to rescue the massive pup.

Nelson said he was sure some trees were going to give way in the storm as he listened to the winds yesterday, but he was hoping his property would be spared.

Many Suffolk residents walked their properties Sunday morning, assessing the damage to their homes.

In the Mansfield Farms neighborhood off of Nansemond Parkway, Donald and Laurie Hines lost shingles and shutters off of the home they have lived in since 2005, and part of their fence broke off in the wind.

“The wind got pretty intense,” Donald Hines said. “I’m just surprised at the amount of shingle damage.”

He said he thinks the second part of the storm, which hit his house around 8 p.m., was the worst of Irene.

Across the street from the Hines, Jeff Plummer was repairing shingles that had come loose in the storm.

This was the first hurricane Plummer has faced, and he said he was ready for the worst, but he feels like he dodged a bullet.

“I had just a few loose shingles,” he said. “It wasn’t bad. I got lucky compared to others.”

Although the storm spared his home, Irene still managed to keep him from getting to his job at Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News last night.

“It wasn’t something I wanted to go out in,” he said.

Like Donald Hines, Plummer said he thought the strongest winds took place later in the storm when the eye was closer to Suffolk.

“The last two or three hours seemed stronger,” he said.

Donald Hines said Hurricane Isabel, in 2003, was worse than Irene overall, and he thinks everyone was more prepared for this storm.

“I think everybody learned their lesson from Isabel,” he said. “Everyone seemed to be really prepared.”