Original Published on Oct 05, 2022 at 07:23

By Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kearsen Duffney was awake and alert Friday night, attempting to calm  her three children ages 3, 6 and 10 who were frightened by flickering  power, the sound of whipping wind gusts and trees snapping off down the  street.

She gathered her children downstairs in their Montague  home when she realized trees were toppling around the neighbourhood. And  when she heard a harrowing crack, bang, crunch and felt her home shake,  she knew the mature, multi-stemmed maple tree in her front yard had  crashed into the house.

“I was terrified,” Ms Duffney said. “The  kids were too. They were saying ‘I don’t want to die mom,’ and to be  honest I was worried for our safety myself.”

At this point it was  only around 10 or 11 pm. “I knew the storm was supposed to get worse  through the night, so I thought we really needed to get out.”

The  tree had punctured the roof and in the wind it continued to sway,  hinging on the root ball and slapping down on the structure. Sheets of  rain pounded against the window and water started to trickle into the  house. Ms Duffney noticed a crack starting to form in the drywall.

“I  was afraid the tree might come farther through the house or the roof  might rip off,” she said, adding she isn’t an expert in assessing the  structural integrity of a house so she was concerned.

Ms Duffney  said she made a rough plan to seek refuge at her neighbours. But upon  peeking outside she knew even a short walk across the road, carrying a  terrified 3-year-old and guiding her six and eight-year-old could be  dangerous. Trees were falling across Patrick Street like dominoes and  branches and debris whipped through the air in the wind.

“We  almost went out the front door but I’m glad we didn’t because shortly  after a tree landed across the driveway, in front of the door right  where we would have walked.”

But Ms Duffney felt unsafe to stay inside so she called 911 for support.

Around 2 am the Montague Fire Department arrived at the end of the street.

“All  you could see was rain, tree branches in the wind and their red  flashing lights,” Ms Dufney said. “I grabbed the kids and we ran for  it.”

Firefighters helped the shaken mom and her kids into the  truck and took them to the safety of the Montague fire hall which  doubled as a warming centre for the night.

“I was so glad to be  out of the house and off the street,” Ms Duffney said. “The kids were  still scared but they eventually calmed down and we did get some sleep.”

Red  Cross provided the family, and one other gentleman who sought overnight  shelter, with cots and they spent the night out of harm’s way.

The  next day Tyson Proude, the minister at Ms Duffney’s mother’s church,  welcomed the family in to stay at their house Saturday, Sunday and  Monday nights.

On Tuesday Laird Tree Care arrived on-scene teamed up with crane operator Frank Brothers.

Ms  Duffney couldn’t help but hug tree climber Beck Aurell, who worked with  her employer Kurt Laird and Mr Brothers to remove the tree from the  house. Her family was able to return to their home Tuesday just as power  began to flow through the lines on her street.

She was relieved the fallen tree didn’t cause structural damage.

“It’s not something we are going to forget soon,” Ms Duffney said.

Even her 3-year-old is able to articulate the drama.

“The tree broke the house,” the youngster, who has begun showing a keen interest in chainsaws since the episode, said.

Ms Duffney sends thanks to everyone who reached out to support her family following the storm.

This item reprinted with permission from   The Eastern Graphic   Montague, Prince Edward Island

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