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MailTribune.com
  • After the storm

    Rogue River resident tries to come to grips with the aftermath of near-death experience
  • The fierce wind that toppled a 130-foot pine tree onto Roy Wheeler's home Sunday did him one crucial favor.
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    • How to help
      Donations for Roy Wheeler, who lost his home in Sunday's windstorm, can be dropped off at 3775 East Evans Creek Road in Rogue River. Donations for Wheeler and his 84-year-old mother may be made at ...
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      How to help
      Donations for Roy Wheeler, who lost his home in Sunday's windstorm, can be dropped off at 3775 East Evans Creek Road in Rogue River. Donations for Wheeler and his 84-year-old mother may be made at any Evergreen Federal Bank branch, with checks made out to the Roy Wheeler fund.
  • The fierce wind that toppled a 130-foot pine tree onto Roy Wheeler's home Sunday did him one crucial favor.
    Wheeler and his 84-year-old mother were in the back part of the rental house when the storm blew open a living room window. When Wheeler went to close it, the tree came crashing into the room he had just left.
    "If it would have happened a few seconds earlier, we woulda been goners," Wheeler said.
    Wheeler, 54, spent Wednesday sifting through what remained of his belongings, which were strewn in a pile of debris in a gravel lot outside his destroyed home in the Whispering Pines RV Park in Rogue River.
    "What the wind didn't ruin, the rain did," Wheeler said.
    Wheeler said he was thankful that he and his mother survived the vicious storm, which knocked out power to tens of thousands of Rogue Valley residents. But the severe weather left them with little more than the clothes on their backs.
    Wheeler had lived with his mother, Maxine Wheeler, for several years. He moved in to take care of her after her father died five years ago.
    Wheeler said his memory of the storm is spotty because he was smacked in the head by a board after the pine tree came crashing through the ceiling.
    "The doctors said I don't have a concussion, but I did injure my arm pretty good," he said. "Truthfully, things are still kinda foggy for me."
    Wheeler's right arm is covered in bruises and scrapes and appeared to be swollen on Wednesday.
    Wheeler said his elderly mother was deeply shaken by the event and spends her days resting at the hotel they are renting until they find a permanent home.
    "We had to help her get out of a back window when the tree hit," Wheeler said. "You can imagine how hard that was."
    Wheeler did not have renter's insurance and because he is out of work, he is unable to replace many of his belongings.
    Wheeler said he appreciated the help he has received from his friends and neighbors at the RV park.
    He and his mother could use some donations to get them by for a few weeks.
    "We need mostly clothes and blankets," Wheeler said. "Things that are useful to us."
    A friend of Wheeler, Tammy DeBenedetti, said donations can be delivered to her home at 3775 East Evans Creek Road in Rogue River.
    She also has established a fund for the Wheelers at any Evergreen Federal Bank branch. Make checks out to the Roy Wheeler fund.
    DeBenedetti said she has toured the wreckage each day since the storm.
    "It's amazing that they survived that storm," she said.
    Wheeler said he plans to stay busy for a few days cleaning up what's left of his possessions.
    "It's kinda strange that it takes you years to collect things and just a few seconds to lose them," he said.
    Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.
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