Herald and Journal, September 21, 1998

At least, the remote still works


Two weeks ago Saturday morning, lightning struck our TV antenna.

My husband and I, and Dan, Tom's brother, were sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper after breakfast. It was about 7:30 a.m.We could hear a thunderstorm approaching.

Suddenly there was a tremendous crack of thunder and the lights and television went out. From where Dan was sitting at the end of the table, he saw sparks fall out of the ceiling in the adjoining room.

Dan's wife Carol had been upstairs in bed, wondering if the guys were out in the metal shed working on machinery as usual. Suddenly she heard the same tremendous crash, and saw sparks fly past the skylight in the ceiling.

The TV antenna, which is directly above the room she was in, had been stuck by lightning. She came down the steps in record time.

We all went back upstairs to look for damage. There was smoke in the hallway and a strange smell like overheated electrical equipment.

For a few minutes, the four of us resembled an old Keystone cops movie, running around to find a ladder, a flashlight and a fire extinguisher, so that Tom could climb up to the attic to check for fire.

There were no flames up there, but the smoky smell was still troubling. Should we call the fire department? Dan had run outside in the rain to check for holes in the roof and to see where the lightning had struck. He and Tom checked all around the house, but saw no holes or burnt spot on the roof.

Our telephone had been knocked out along with the power. My mother-in-law shares part of our house and her phone line still worked. At least we could call in the power outage and report to our insurance man that the house had been struck by lightening.

Our barn is on a separate line so there was power out there to run the fans and the bulk tank. The power for the well comes from the house, though, so the cows were out of water like the rest of us.

The good news is that the house did not burst into flame. The bad news is that we lost a lot of our electrical equipment.

Our big-screen TV is out, as is the VCR that was sitting on top of it. Too bad the lightning couldn't just fry the remote and leave the TV still operational. Or better yet, why couldn't it retain a small voltage and administer a shock to those who are a little too "remote happy?" But I digress.

The insurance man told us that an adjuster would be out to talk to us in a week or two. At the time, that seemed like an awfully long delay. Since then, we have found several more victims of the lightning strike.

Of course, we went around and tested the obvious things like the TVs and the computer. The TV in the living room had been attached to the antenna on the roof. The antenna cable was fried right off the side of the house.

The computer is gone, as well as our cordless phone. I miss them more than the TV set. After a few days, we became aware that the touch-on lamp in the living room did not work either. The outside light for the back porch was out, too. That is near where Dan saw sparks fly.

At about mid-week, our daughter, Jesy, noticed some flakes on the floor in the upstairs hallway. When she looked around, she found the spot where the lightning had come through the house.

There is a burned spot on the outside wall, where the wall and ceiling come together. There is a hole about the size of a sheet rock nail head burned in the textured ceiling. The metal sheet rock corner has three one- inch patches on it that had the plaster blown right off.

It is interesting what electricity will do. Yvonne, my mother-in-law, lost the cordless phone in her room and the garage door opener in the attached garage where she parks her car. Her TV and VCR were plugged into the same outlet. Her TV works, but the VCR doesn't.

Our insurance man has been out to see us now, and we will be submitting a list of damaged items to him. It will take a while to get the items repaired or replaced. Basically, it is an inconvenience and a general pain in the neck.

Naturally, Tom misses the big-screen TV, which is his pride and joy. He is having that checked out now to see if it can be repaired. Since the lightning strike, he has had to watch TV sitting at the kitchen table instead of slouched in his favorite comfy chair in the living room.

At least, he still has a remote to use!

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