The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Treasure in the Heartland

photos and story by db Conard -The Quill


Thursday was, and wasn't a good day for Carol Wilcox. The best thing about her day was that she wasn't sitting in her regular chair, when at about 3 p.m., she watched her home of the past 17 years, literally being cut in half by a huge old oak tree.

Had she been in her chair, this would have been a different story.

Earlier that day, Carol had hired a tree service company that her daughter had found through an advertisement in the local shopper.

They had cut most of the branches and were working on the at least 10 foot circumference trunk, when one of those forever moments came with the snap of a strap.

A strap was only one of a number of accidents waiting to happen. It is easy to want to beat up on the men who were responsible for the changes to Carol's world, because it all seemed so unnecessary.

It does not say much for them, that they never came back to clean up their mess. The tree cutters were obviously not professional. No matter how well intended or hard working these men were, they should not have been there in the first place, BECAUSE they had NO INSURANCE!!.

Professional services all have insurance and without exception should be prepared to prove it.. At Carol's home, one could only try to imagine her sense of loss as they viewed the destruction to what had been an obviously, comfortable home. "No insurance!" is what she had been told.

The tree cutters had liability insurance on their rented equipment, but none on themselves, and to begin with, Carols insurance people said she wasn't covered either. Not encouraging news in an already day gone wrong.

As I watched, things started to change for the better. Carol's insurance company called offering to take care of her lodging and food needs. It seemed that she was covered after all, and they were stepping up to the plate. Carols family were there right away, along with a few friends that were the first to hear.

As the word got out more and more people began to arrive, curious to see the big tree and what it had done to the little home, and to offer their help.

Don Eudaley, area program director for The Red Cross, came all the way from Galesburg to offer a comforting arm, even though it wasn't the kind of disaster they could serve. Don was there, however, to provide what advice he could and gave her a comforting hug.

The day went from a disaster to almost a party with the good feelings of people coming together because of a friend.

"A wonderful women! " commented Gene Roark, a neighbor who came to help.

Several times when people would talk about Carol, it was more than evident that a good number of people felt that way about her.

Most of what could be saved, or that needed to be protected, was quickly dealt with by many hands.

A backhoe and men with chainsaws removed the tree from the house. Carol had a check in her hand, in less than 24 hours to start looking for a new home. My hat is off to Progressive Insurance for a great start towards settling Carol's losses and getting her back into a home. By the end of the second day a lot had been accomplished.

From county and local officials, fire and utility people, they were there, or were in touch.

Family, neighbors and friends were there all wanting to do something to help Carol and their action took some of the pain out of a difficult day.

One thing that Carol said that struck me, was that she had not been aware, that so many people had been aware of her!

The wonderful people were the treasure of the heartland.....once again!

Gene Roark shows the small strap that snapped into after it was used to support this large tree as it was being cut

Carol Wilcox of Lomax forces a smile after the tree she had hired tree trimmers to remove ended up cutting her mobile home in half. Luckily, the trimmers had called her outside just before the incident happened.