By Felicia A. Petro
Allied News Staff Writer
A Stoneboro woman was pinned in her Branch Street trailer after two trees fell on it early Wednesday morning.
“I can’t believe this,” said Trudy Nordick on Wednesday afternoon, still visibly shaken.
“It’s a wonder it didn’t kill us,” added Dale Long, who saved Nordick, his fiancee, around 4:30 a.m. when the trees fell.
“We were sleeping. It was windy with lighting and thundering,” Nordick said.
The lightning hit a neighbor’s tall tree, which toppled and brought down another tall tree on their trailer, Long said.
One tree struck the kitchen area; the other, the living room, where the couple were sleeping.
Nordick and Long slept on a mattress in the living room, since it was roomier than the spare room in the trailer, Nordick noted.
She was pinned on the bed by the roof, which crumpled like a piece of tin by the weight of the one tree.
Dale “pulled me off the bed and pulled me outside” through an opening that buckled out the wall, Nordick said, pointing at the damage.
“He was going to stay at a friend’s last night and hunt tomorrow, but I had this feeling. I convinced him to stay home,” she noted.
Nordick was limping, but hadn’t sought medical attention for her leg injury.
The 40-year-old woman’s children were sleeping in their rooms in the back of the trailer when the trees fell.
Her daughter, Nancy Shick, 18, ran to the bedroom of her brother, Michael Beers, 8, and made sure he was OK, their mother said.
Her boy’s room was closest to the tree that fell over the kitchen, but least impacted. All three back bedrooms could be accessed from the back door.
Nordick made sure Michael stayed at a new friend’s house in the neighborhood while she, her daughter and Long tried to retrieve what personal items they could find from the wreckage.
“I don’t want him to deal with this,” the mother said.
The damage destroyed “everything I had for Christmas,” and other items, Nordick noted.
She and Long were in the process of renting to own the trailer, which was not insured, Nordick said.
Landlord Jacob Bennefield, Stoneboro, dropped his insurance once the new renters moved in.
Bennefield said the insurance of the neighbor – whose tree caused the damage – may not work, either. The neighbor’s policy doesn’t cover falling trees; however, word on her liability insurance is pending, he noted.
In February, Bennefield swapped his fixer-upper for the trailer. His house was “down the street and wasn’t really worth fixing but (the former owner of the trailer) wanted it,” he said.
“I knew I could fix up the trailer, and lived in it for a while.”
Now the trailer is not fixable, Bennefield said. He believes the trees twisted the frame of the mobile home, even affecting the back rooms that weren’t touched.
“Parts of the ceiling are buckling,” he said. “It’s not sound for anyone to live in there.” Bennefield also owned the furniture and appliances in the mobile home.
“If I don’t get any money from the neighbor’s insurance, I won’t have the money to fix it up,” he said. “I’ll probably tear it down and sell the property.”
Nordick, her children and Long just moved to the trailer in September.
The couple met doing carnival work with Swank’s Steel City Show – headquartered in Pittsburgh – three years ago. She operated the kiddie rides, and he was a mechanic.
They became a couple in August. “When we worked in Stoneboro this year, Dale and I said, ‘why not get a place,’” Nordick said. She had been living in Tionesta; Long, in West Virginia.
Shick is home-schooled, but takes classes at the vocation high school in Venango County. Her brother attends Lakeview Elementary School.
Right now, Long is unemployed and Nordick is disabled. She was diagnosed with a genetic liver condition two years ago.
“Ninety-five percent of my liver is covered in tumors. I’m waiting for a liver transplant,” she said. Nordick’s liver medicine was somewhere in the trailer’s wreckage the day of the accident.
Nordick’s closest relatives live over two hours away.
She, the kids and Long partially stayed the day at a new friend’s in the neighborhood.
Long’s friend from Clarion and passersby stopped at the site to help clean up.
“Everyone has been so nice. It’s a wonderful neighborhood,” said Nordick, who also secured Wednesday night’s lodging at a hotel in Mercer through the Red Cross.
After that, “Me and my two kids are homeless,” said Nordick, still in shock.
Bennefield did not expect her and her family to be bound by their contract.
“They don’t have a place to live,” he said. “They may as well take that money and rent somewhere else.”
Shick was still in her pajamas by Wednesday afternoon after the night’s storm.
“Now we have to start from scratch,” she said. “I’m lucky to be alive. It’s all I care about.”
Nordick believes God saved her “for my two kids.”
Published Dec. 12, 2009 in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.
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