Christine Amoroso sat down and flipped to the Weather Channel. Isaac seemed so far away, Amoroso thought – until her window exploded into a ball of flames right in front of her.
Photographer: Delray Beach Fire-Rescue
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Christine Amoroso sat down and flipped to the Weather Channel.
It was just after 10 p.m. Sunday, and right before her bedtime, but the 83-year-old wanted to see the latest news about Tropical Storm Isaac. Outside, wind and rain pelted her pink villa on Flamingo Lane in Delray Beach.
Her doors were locked, her clamshell awnings cranked down.
Isaac seemed so far away, Amoroso thought – until her window exploded. A bolt of lightning had struck a neighbor's tree and hurled a flaming, 5-foot splinter of wood through her front window.
In seconds, the shard of wood had pierced a hole through a metal awning, smashed through a glass China cabinet and landed five feet away from where Amoroso sat watching TV.
"Oh, God, it was a mess," said Amoroso, who lives alone. "I narrowly missed not being with this world anymore."
It was like someone poked a giant, flaming toothpick through her house, Amoroso said. The impact of the explosion split and curled the metal of her awning back like a banana peel, leaving a gaping hole above the desk where Amoroso often sits.
The lightning bolt came from one of Isaac's many squalls, which dumped as much 8 inches of rain over the weekend, causing thousands of power outages and flooding many sections of the county.
But emergency officials said the exploding tree was something special.
"I've never seen anything like that before," said Capt. Curtis Jepsen, of Delray Beach Fire Rescue.
Jepsen noted that Amoroso didn't have hurricane shutters, only awnings, used to protect homes from light thunderstorms. "She didn't have Miami -Dade rated shutters or anything," Jepsen said. "But for lightning to do that? Doesn't happen every day."
After firefighters boarded up her window with plywood and the firetrucks rolled away, Amoroso said she was afraid to sleep anywhere but the closet.
"I was shaking," she said. "I was too upset."
Amoroso spent most of Monday cleaning and picking up the shattered glass and debris splattered across her living room floor.
But she had relief by mid-afternoon. Amoroso's son drove up from Miami to help clean an Isaac disaster area – his mother's villa.
"I didn't want to be here by myself," Amoroso said.
A lifelong South Floridian from Plantation, Amoroso said she remembers watching the horrors of Andrew unfold on her television. Those storms were scary, Amoroso said, but nothing scared her more than knowing – if only for a second –she was in the violent wake of Isaac.
She never thought the storm would wind up in her living room.
While she made sure most of the debris made it to the trash, Amoroso decided to keep the destroyed clamshell awning.
Although it now signifies the scariest moment of her life, she said it also serves as proof that crazy things can happen to anyone, anywhere.
"It's awesome," Amoroso said.
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