Natchez woman wakes to find trees on house

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 20, 2000

When Doris Lonigro fell asleep on her living room sofa Monday night, she wasn’t dreaming she’d wake to find her Madison Street backyard transformed into a sea of catalpa leaves.

Sometime in the early morning, two giant trees fell, shoving their mighty limbs through Lonigro’s back porch screen and knocking the electricity out. In fact, it was the power failure that alerted Lonigro to the accident.

&uot;Believe it or not, (the noise of the trees falling) didn’t even wake me up,&uot; she said.

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Lonigro said she woke in the middle of the night and immediately noticed the kitchen light she had left on wasn’t burning.

After checking the fuse box, she tried unsuccessfully to fall back asleep. Finally, at around 3 a.m., Lonigro went onto the porch and found the fallen trees.

A resident of 512 Madison St. for 37 years, Lonigro said the trees have concerned her for years.

More than a month ago, Lonigro had the land surveyed to determine on whose property the trees grew.

She said the engineer told her the trees’ roots were not on her land, but over the years, the trunks had grown to infringe on her property.

&uot;He told me they weren’t mine, but I guess they are now,&uot; Lonigro said, surveying the damage to her home and the mass of foliage. &uot;I’ve been trying to get that tree for 100 years,&uot; she said. &uot;Maybe this was God’s way of helping me out.&uot;

Although the trees’ limbs damaged parts of Lonigro’s porch and roof, they stopped just short of falling over where Lonigro was sleeping.

&uot;It could’ve been a lot worse,&uot; Lonigro’s granddaughter, Jeanne Yelverton, said of the damage. &uot;She got lucky.&uot;

While Monday’s heavy rain and wind contributed to the accident, Lonigro speculated that years of erosion is the ultimate cause.

Richard Burke, Natchez Department of Public Works director, said he is convinced the storm caused the trees to fall. Public works crews should remove the fallen trees today. Because the trees were located along an alley way that serves the city’s water tower and several residences, the city will provide its clean-up services to Lonigro.

Monday’s storm also damaged trees at several other locations across the city, including Franklin Street, Winchester Road, Homewood Park, Melrose Avenue and Lower Woodville Road.