Gripped By Fear
Writer Author Carol Agee
- Fiction No
One beautiful May afternoon, I drove through Charlottesville, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains toward my home in Radford, Virginia. The sun was bright and I felt its luxurious warmth shining through the window. I observed the beauty of the trees, some were budding, some were in full bloom, and others had developed tiny fresh green leaves. Everything looked gorgeous and I realized that only God could paint a picture like that.
Out of the blue, torrential rain began pouring from the sky. I had never seen that kind of rain before. It looked like someone threw a big white blanket over my windshield. I felt the wind against my car and knew I had to do something fast. I was in the passing lane but all I could think was, I have to get off the road. I didn't know if there was room to pull off on the left and wondered if I could make it to the emergency lane on the right. I couldn't see anything. I was gripped by fear! I turned on my signal and started toward the right praying that I wouldn't hit anyone. I was jolted as I felt something hit the car and saw a gigantic tree tumbling toward my windshield. It crashed into my car. The trunk of the tree hit merely inches from my windshield, but did not break through.
I was so startled that I jumped out of the car to investigate. Rain was pouring down and the wind was so strong it could have easily torn the door off its hinges or thrown me off my feet, but fortunately that did not happen. I jumped back in the car in a state of shock.
The tree, lying across the hood of my car with its leafy branches pressed against the windshield, was huge. It stretched across both lanes of the highway and well onto the median blocking all traffic.
After about ten minutes, the wind and rain began to slack off. It's probably safe to get out now and check the damages, I thought. As I got out of the car, I was startled to see a young man, wearing a poncho and carrying a golf umbrella, walking through the branches of the downed tree toward me. He called out, Are you hurt?
"No, just a little shaken.", I replied in a weak voice.
"Is anyone else in the car? Anyone hurt?", he asked urgently.
"My dog is in the car and we're both okay.", I answered.
"My name is Greg and I'm a member of the local rescue squad. I'm not on duty now but wanted to see if I could help." Greg called the police department and asked that an officer be dispatched. He encouraged me to move away from the tree-inhabited area because the winds were still strong and there was a definite possibility of other trees being uprooted.
By this time, quite a few people were walking around looking at the massive tree resting on my car. A young woman named Ann came to me and offered her help. She let me use her cell phone and even though it was still raining and we were soaked, she insisted that I get into her car to make the call. I contacted my cousin and asked him to come and get me since I was sure my car was totaled.
I was thinking about all the insurance and repair details that would have to be worked out when I felt a sharp tap on my shoulder. I quickly turned and saw a scruffy-looking man. He made no eye contact as he blurted out, "I've got a chain saw in my truck. I'll cut that tree into pieces and get it off your car if you want me to." I stepped back feeling quite unnerved. Since the police had not yet arrived I was afraid if the tree was removed I might not be able to get official confirmation for my insurance. Ann, who was still by my side, encouraged me to have the man cut the tree since it would have to be removed anyway. Hesitantly, I agreed.
By now, more people were walking up to inspect the uprooted tree. Among them was Josh, Ann's boyfriend. Josh and Ann were not traveling together so it was unusual that they would both stop at the same accident. Meanwhile, the tree cutting was underway. The man would cut a little while and the onlookers would remove pieces of tree. This process was repeated many times since the tree was so large. Ann, Josh, and about eight to ten others worked diligently to move the tree off the highway and off my car. All this time I was standing to the side holding onto my dog, Brandi's, leash.
Once the tree was removed from the highway Josh began directing traffic past my car. People drove by gawking at the pile of branches and someone stopped and loaded the large pieces on his truck.
It was getting dark and the police had not yet arrived, and neither had my cousin. Josh thoughtfully said,"'We're going to stay with you until someone gets here."
"I'll be all right.", I assured him. "I'll get in my car and lock the doors until my cousin or the police get here. You're tired. Thank you for all your help! Now go on."
With gentle determination, Josh said, "We are not leaving you here alone. I wouldn't want Ann to be left alone and we're not leaving you." They stayed until my cousin arrived. I was very touched by the thoughtfulness of these strangers.
Soon afterward, a police officer came and explained that a tornado had touched down. He said there were many accidents in the area and he had taken care of ones where there were injuries first. He gave me confirmation for my insurance, reminded me how lucky I was, and said goodbye.
Incredibly, my car was drivable. I drove to my cousin's home and spent the night before heading for home the next day.
Coincidences. Miraculous happenings. Call them what you may, but I know what happened that day. A huge tree crashed only inches from my windshield. An inch or two closer and it would have surely shattered the windshield and killed me. I got out of the car during a tornado without being hurt. A rescue squad member just happened to show up to help. A man that I was actually afraid to trust arrived with his chain saw and removed the tree from my car and the highway. This angel left before I could even thank him. Ann and Josh were like angels sent from God as they helped with the work and at the same time provided caring support for me. I drove my car away that evening with only minor damage to the body. You may say these were merely coincidences but I thank God for orchestrating the miraculous events of that day!
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