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Centuries-old oak falls in violent storm

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
WOODLEAF ó Eva and Louis Snider were in their home on Parks Road Saturday afternoon when a violent thunderstorm passed through.
“We had been watching the clouds,” Eva said. “All of a sudden, the wind started to pick up and it started to rain. That’s when the lightning was really close.”
Louis said the rain was coming down in sheets. “There was a lot of wind,” he said, “a lot of lightning and thunder. The Lord was showing his power.”
One very loud crack of thunder seemed to shake the house, he said.
The Sniders went out to eat after the storm and it wasn’t until they were arriving back home that they noticed the massive white oak lying in the yard of the farmhouse their son lives in across the road.
Louis Snider said he measured the circumference of the tree at 24 feet. “It’s about seven feet through the center,” he said.
Judging by the condition of the tree, he said it would have almost had to have been struck by lightning.
The top of the tree did some minor damage to the roof of a storage shed for his farm equipment. The tree will have to be moved for Louis to get to his round hay baler, which he said he needs to use as soon as the rain stops.
A wooden dog pen Louis Snider’s father built years ago was destroyed by the tree. Amazingly, a hen and 19 chicks inside survived unharmed.
The Sniders’ pastor, the Rev. John Tucker of Lebanon Lutheran Church, said the hen had the chicks under her wings when he and his son, Zachary, stopped to help Louis Snider retrieve them from under the tree.
Tucker and Darrell Bolick, who is also a member at Lebanon, were at the Sniders’ farm Monday to help Louis cut the tree.
It’s an undertaking that may take a while.
Louis Snider said the tree was at least 200 years old. He bought the 1820 farmhouse from his stepmother, Edith Deal Snider, and his son, Ricky, lives there now.
Ricky Snider was not at home when the tree fell.
Louis Snider said there was a streak through the woods beyond the pasture behind the house where all the trees had been felled by the storm. Several other trees in the Woodleaf area did not survive the storm.
Darrell Bolick said a tree fell at his sister’s house on Thompson Road, pulling the power meter loose from her house. Her power was just turned back on Monday.
How long it will take to clean up the white oak on the Snider farm depends on how much help he can get.
Bolick said he and Tucker have experience cleaning up after storms, having helped with relief efforts after a tornado in Louisiana and Hurricane Katrina in Gulfport, Miss.
The wood won’t go to waste. Louis Snider said he heats his house with wood.
“This will be enough to last about three years,” he said.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.

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