BROOKVILLE – Linda Taulbee, who lives in Brookville’s Terrace Park neighborhood, is feeling extremely blessed this Christmas.
On May 27, like many others in her neighborhood as well as other parts of the city, she was forced out of her home due to the eF-4 tornado that hit.
From June 4 through Nov. 12 she moved into temporary living quarters as her home of 49 years was being repaired. For a week prior to moving into the temporary unit in Englewood she was taken in by friends for a week.
While her home, compared to others, did not sustain unrepairable damage, it was bad enough. The contractor who worked on her home, Chip Hills, termed the work needed for repairs a “major overhaul.”
Crediting an excellent insurance provider and the hand of God, Taulbee and her dog Holly, survived the May 27 storm and are counting their blessings today.
“I was watching television and texting with my sister, who lives near Boston, because the (Boston) Bruins were playing the (Columbus) Blue Jackets (in the NHL playoffs),” Taulbee said. “I had been watching the weather reports and then the power went off.
“That is when I heard the wind, then Holly7 and I jumped into the (hall) closet and it (tornado) hit within two minutes,” she added. “I texted more, mostly gibberish, but you could read ‘tornado’ and ‘safe.’
“Then I texted ‘roof gone’ because I looked up and could see the sky from the closet.”
They were able to get out of the house, thanks to advance planning, as she said heeding the advice of surviving tornados, and had water and a flashlight in the closet.
“I told people I had no time to panic it was over so fast,” she said.
In having Hills do the work rebuilding her home, Taulbee said, “I had someone I could trust who did great work.
“I had an excellent insurance company and it was a real combination of the two (to work out well),” said Taulbee.
Taulbee and her late husband, Dan, moved into their home in July of 1970. He passed a few years ago.
As for her first reactions after the tornado, Taulbee said she had “no clue” how bad it was on first assessment. She knew the roof was gone, but the walls on the part of the home where the bedrooms and bathroom were still standing. The walls around the living room and kitchen area were caved in.
“My mindset had been when I heard about a possibility of the tornado was ‘it will hit Arcanum,’” said Taulbee.
She said that some things about neighbors rebuilding are nice in that most of the brick exteriors in Terrace Park were darker shades. The new facades are lighter and multiple shade colors.
She also said the loss of many trees in the neighborhood is bad.
“The trees (missing) makes it look very haunting,” she said.
She did joke about the loss of trees, however, in saying, “now I joke with people and say I’ll be able to see the fireworks at the Community Picnic from my front porch. I would rather have the trees, however.”
The roof over the home was gone, she also lost her garage, two sheds and her car, which was in the driveway, had a refrigerator blown into its side.
The damage, she said, was “pretty complete.”
She did state that first couple of days when volunteers came through Terrace Park assessing damage and inspecting homes someone found a folded American flag in a closet in her home. She said that volunteer was a military veteran and wanted to have it flying outside of the home.
The flagpole in her front yard was bent by the winds from the tornado, but just when the volunteer brought the flag outside, Taulbee said, a bucket truck driven by a DP&L worker came down her street. That truck stopped and the DP&L worker assisted the volunteers in hanging that flag on the bent over flag pole.
As for the response by the Brookville community and other volunteers, Taulbee said that Brookville is very special.
“Words can’t even begin to say how grateful we were,” she said.
Volunteers offered food, water and other essentials.
“We could have eaten 20 times a day with all of the people helping with that,” she said.
She said that many of her neighbors came up with a nickname of the Montgomery County Jail inmates who came to assist, she said they called them the “Orange Angels.”
“They were so good, they did whatever they could do and was needed,” Taulbee said of those inmates who assisted.
“The community was a blessing unto itself,” Taulbee said. “They (volunteers) will stay in my heart forever.
“Brookville is just a wonderful community,” added Taulbee.
Both Taulbee and her contractor, Hills, wanted to make sure that congregants and volunteers representing The Ridge Church, located at 7555 Brookville-Phillipsburg Road, were properly thanked and credited for their efforts.
“Folks from The Ridge came out every weekend into the plat and worked,” Hills said. “They helped out so much.”
As for the work on Taulbee’s home, Taulbee made sure that Hills rebuilt her home as close to original as possible, minus some work that had to be done because of newer building codes.
“The process (of rebuilding) went well,” Hills said, who also thanked the Brookville community members who assisted throughout the city in damaged areas.
“I want to thank the community of Brookville as they helped out a lot,” Hills said.
As for Taulbee feeling blessed being back home, she said, “I am happy to be back. This is just home.
“Every day is a blessing for me.”
Reach this writer at email@example.com, or call 833-2545.