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Socastee family thanks neighbors for risking lives on roof to save house during Matthew

Neighbors helped clear a tree from a house during Hurricane Matthew (Source: Carol Martin) Neighbors helped clear a tree from a house during Hurricane Matthew (Source: Carol Martin)

SOCASTEE, SC (WMBF) - After the Martins witnessed a tree crash down on their house in Bridge Creek during Hurricane Matthew, they watched their neighbors become heroes.

Jim and Carol Martin were inside getting their son, Ben, ready for lunch when they started noticing their favorite tree in the backyard was leaning.

“For me, it was like watching it in slow motion,” Carol Martin said.

Ben has cerebral palsy and doesn’t walk or talk. He was sitting in the living room when the tree started falling in his direction.

“I tried to hustle him out of the living room to a place where he wouldn’t get crushed,” Jim Martin said.

The trunk fell square on the porch and the rest of the tree fell onto the house.

“Had it not been for the porch, I think our house would’ve been cut in half,” Jim Martin said. “I don’t know if all of us would’ve made it out.”

While the Martins were safe from the initial crash, the tree left holes in the roof.

“I was on the phone with All State, Richard Paugh from across the street was ringing the doorbell with a chainsaw,” Jim Martin said.

Jim, along with Paugh, Jim's brother-in-law, Keith Lyons, and another neighbor, Richard Perdue, all ended up on the roof removing tree limbs and patching holes with tarps in the middle of the hurricane.

“The whole time it was gusting to 70,” Jim Martin said. “We had to grab onto each other. The wind was going to pull us right off the roof. At one point Richard [Paugh] fell face down up there. He got up. He got his chainsaw running. It was four hours of pretty hairy stuff. Some brave guys to do that for us.”

While the inside of the house stayed dry and protected thanks to their hard work, Martin knows his neighbors’ safety was put at risk to make it that way.

“I saw some spooky things in Vietnam back in the 60s,” Jim said. “That’s as brave as anybody I’ve seen out on the roof.”

Like in the military, bravery is rewarded, so Jim and Carol Martin had plaques made to give to their heroic neighbors.

Paugh said the wind made the task difficult.

“It wanted to knock us around. When we started putting the tarps down, it got up under the tarp and that’s like a big sail,” he said. “So it just jerked us over the roof a little ways until we got it back down where the wind wouldn’t pick it up.”

However, he didn’t think twice about helping out neighbors in need.

“Neighbors should look out for each other and it makes the community better all the way around,” he said.

A professional team came after the storm to secure planks of wood over the holes and a full blue tarp over the roof.

The Martins aren’t sure how much the damage to the roof will cost them. The tree went through the attic and also caused a beam in the living room to fall.

They said the feel lucky the flooding affecting their neighbors only got up to their backyard.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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