Lightning strikes Southport

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 7:30pm

On Sunday, June 30 at 1:15 p.m., Lynn Schafer of Hendricks Hill Road was settling down for a late lunch. The storm outside was as bad as she’d witnessed on Southport in a long time but she felt safe and dry in her kitchen and was glad to be home. Five minutes later, lightning struck.

“A fireball shot out of the ceiling vent just three feet from me and the noise was terrifying,” said Schafer. “Next thing, I see smoke billowing down from upstairs.”

She immediately called 911. “I figured it must have been lightning. Whatever it was, I knew it wasn’t good.”

Southport Volunteer Fire Department arrived in five minutes, she said. “They were wonderful.”

On the second floor, firefighters found total disarray: Lightning had struck the 1925 house, blasting a hole in the roof, bringing down soffits and sheetrock, and starting a small electrical fire. Decades-old stained glass windows that partition two bedroom spaces became dislodged from their frames, but were still intact.

“The firefighters made sure everything was stable. They pulled off the exposed insulation and threw it out into the yard. The fire was out, but they made sure there was nothing still smoldering,” said Schafer.

By Monday, the clouds had passed and Southport was basking in beautiful summer weather. Schafer was surveying the damage: Two bedrooms in chaos, and debris scattered across the second floor. Neighbors were offering to help clean up, but she had to wait for the insurance adjuster.

“Communication has been challenging,” she said. “I have my cell phone, but the service isn’t great. And I don’t have internet or the landline because my modem was melted!”

But it could have been much worse, she said. “I could have been killed. But no one was hurt and I was home to call 911, and thank God for our amazing firefighters.”

Elsewhere on the island, residents lost power, internet and cable. Most services were quickly restored.