An Urbana couple displaced from their Grand Avenue home by a fallen tree on Monday say they are lucky to have escaped without injuries.
Tim Hines, who has lived at 318 Grand Ave. for the past 27 years with his wife, Bev, spent part of Thursday afternoon sitting in his vehicle outside the couple’s mangled home.
“I’ve just been sitting here thinking about all the good memories we made here and trying to keep a smile on my face. That’s all I can do,” he said.
Urbana Fire Chief Mark Keller said his department responded to the property at 4:27 a.m. on May 1 after dispatch received word that a tree had fallen on a home. Due to concerns over possible downed power lines, the Hineses were advised by dispatch to remain in their home.
After arriving on the scene and assessing the situation, Keller said it was determined no electrical wires were down, and the Hineses were safely evacuated.
Hines called the house a “total loss,” but said material possessions can be replaced.
“It’s a devastating loss, but it’s a blessing we weren’t hurt,” he said. “Somebody was looking over us at the time.”
Hines added after it was deemed safe to enter, they salvaged numerous personal items from the home.
Hines said the local community has been a blessing in disguise, and the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross was on the scene within two hours to provide assistance.
“It’s just amazing how the community has come around to see if we needed anything,” he said. “Everybody has been chipping in here and there.”
For now, Hines and his wife are living with her parents in Urbana, but are looking for a place of their own.
City addresses comments made to first responders
Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said when the Urbana Fire Division arrived on the scene, the owners of the property alleged the tree in question was on city property and that complaints about it being a hazard had been brought to the city’s attention in the past.
Hines said on Thursday that it’s his understanding the tree, just east of a ditch that flows into Dugan Run, isn’t on his property, but instead on city property. He didn’t rule out, however, the possibility the tree could be on a neighboring property.
“There is going to have to be some surveying work done to find out where everything lies, and I understand that,” Hines said. “The process is going to take time.”
In response to claims that the tree is on city property, Brugger said, “We are not aware at this time that we own any property (in the general vicinity) except for the road (Grand Avenue) to the property.”
As for the city knowing about the tree being deemed a concern by the homeowners, Brugger said city officials have yet to find any “records of complaints over the tree.” He added the tree doesn’t appear on the city’s street tree inventory list.
If the Hineses feel the city is responsible for the fallen tree, Brugger said, they are welcome to go through the proper channels to have the issue addressed by an insurance investigator from the Public Entity Risk Services of Ohio (PERSO).
On Thursday afternoon, the Hineses did just that, and Brugger said the city has put them in contact with a local insurance representative to start the insurance claim process.
“We are doing doing what we can on our side to prepare ourselves,” Brugger said. “If (the fallen tree) is our obligation, we will do what we have to do.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.