Irma sends tree crashing into home

Willie James Belton built the home in 1966, the year he and Jeanette were married. They say they’re staying.

BLYTHEWOOD – Willie James Belton, 78, and Jeanette Belton, his wife of 51 years, were sitting down to a late lunch in their home on Boney Road about 1 p.m. on Monday when gusty winds dispensed by a weakening Hurricane Irma sent a giant tree crashing into the roof of their home.

“It made the whole house jump. Like that,” Willie demonstrated with a jolt of his body. “I never went through anything like that. Scared me, I couldn’t think what was happening.”

Inside the home, boards poke through the living room ceiling and the bedroom ceiling is cracked and bulging.

“We didn’t sleep in the bedroom last night,” Jeanette said on Tuesday, pointing to a large section of damaged ceiling directly above the bed.

“It looks like it might fall through,” she said, looking up at the ceiling with a worried look.

High winds spawned by Hurricane Irma blew down a giant tree that sliced through the roof of this home on Boney Road. | Photos/Barbara Ball

Nevertheless, the Beltons said they don’t plan to leave the home they have shared for all their married life.

Even though the damage was daunting, inside and out, Willie said they plan to repair the house and stay there.

“I built this house before we got married,” Willie said. That was in 1966. “I’m from Fairfield County, but I’ve lived in Blythewood for 57 years.”

It had been an idyllic cottage when it was new. The Beltons raised their four children. One of their daughters, Terry Belton, lives next door and helps look after her mom and dad who is partially disabled.

But repairing the home will not be a simple thing since the couple does not have insurance coverage on the home.

The ceilings in the living room and one bedroom were damaged by the fallen tree when it pushed rafters through the living room ceiling and left cracks and bulges in the ceiling of the couple’s bedroom.

“That’s ok, we can get it fixed. We have friends and family in the construction business. We’ll make it,” he said, with a convincing smile.

An SCE&G crew showed up about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday to repair an electric line that strung across the Belton’s front yard, hanging low, from a pole across Boney Road to their daughter’s home next door.

The uprooted tree fell across Belton’s pickup truck before slicing the roof.

While the Belton’s are worried about the damage to their home and the cost to repair it, Willie is undaunted.

The tree top came to rest on the far side of the Belton’s home.

“When we get that tree off the roof, I’ll get it cut up for wood for the stove. We’ll get it fixed,” he repeated, then paused, looking down at his hands, then up. “We have friends and family. We’ll be ok.”

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