I slept through Hurricane Fran in September of 1996. Because the North Carolina Piedmont is 150 miles inland, I assumed there was nothing to worry about. As daylight came and I got up to see that pine trees were still swaying, the phone rang. It was one of my favorite customers, for whom I had done a couple of remodeling jobs: "Bill, I've got a tree through my bedroom, bath, and closet." At that moment, I had no idea that the entire city, the entire region, was waking up to a major disaster. I threw a 100-foot roll of 6-mil plastic along with some 16-foot 2x4s into the back of the truck, and my son and I started out on what should have been a ten-minute drive across town. It took half an hour of backtracking around streets blocked by trees, utility poles snapped and leaning, and downed power lines lying curled on the road. I could not get into the drive of the home, since two or three trees were lying across it. But within an hour, I had plastic tacked down over an enormous poplar tree and a gaping hole in the roof (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Felled by a September hurricane that veered inland, this mature poplar tree was an unwelcome house guest (right). The first order of business was to cover the gaping hole — and the tree within — with 6-mil plastic to keep out the rain (below).

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