Freddy Gracia had just climbed into his car in his Saanich driveway on Thursday when the massive Garry oak from his front yard crashed down on top of him.
“Scared the hell out of me,” said Gracia, who survived the ordeal untouched but is still dealing with the stress. “I couldn’t get out of the car. My door was blocked by branches, I was panicking.”
The tree fell during the heavy rains on Jan. 3. For now the family is unsure exactly why the tree fell.
Gracia was fine, but the roof of his car caved in enough that he had to kick open a passenger door to get out.
“I was waiting for my wife to come out,” Gracia said. “She had just run back in to get something.”
Luck was an understatement. The Gracia home is also a daycare. If it was next week, there very well would have been children playing in the front yard, if not somewhere else the oak crashed as it came onto the house, the yard’s three playhouses, the fence, the car, and other play features.
The family guesses it’s about 100 years old.
“It was here when we bought the house, 35 years ago,” Gracia said. “Scary.”
Their home insurance provider connect them with Onside Restoration but the company is so busy with fallen trees on Salt Spring Island that they’re hoping to visit Friday or Saturday. With the tree down on the driveway and entrance to the house, Saanich Fire popped a section of the fence out so the family could access the home.
“Onside Restoration will use a crane to hold the tree up so they can cut it,” said family friend Pat Williams who came to stay there. “And it’s [slipped] closer to the house. The only thing supporting it is the fence and a little branch.”
Mariah Gracia, who lives in the home, was standing in front window when she heard a loud crackling noise. The neighbours thought it was an earthquake.
“It was a shock, for sure,” Mariah said. “We had people come a while ago to trim the branches, [away from the electrical lines] and we asked if the tree was okay, and they said it was fine.’
It’s the only place it could have fallen without doing more damage, Mariah said, as it avoided the house and the power lines.
In the meantime, the Garry oak has slipped closer to the house as the bulk of the weight is supported where the trunk rests on the fence and one branch about mid-tree that is stabbed directly into the ground, Mariah said.
There are branches leaning on the roof, over Mariah’s bedroom, and though the roof has not collapsed, Mariah is not sleeping in there until she’s told it’s safe.