Len and Sherry Readshaw spent a quiet and grateful Christmas at a bed and breakfast in Port Alberni, even though they own a home not 10 kilometres away.
The Readshaws are recovering after two trees crashed through the roof of their mobile home at Mountain View Mobile Home Park on Nov. 17. Both still have lingering health issues: Len had a brain bleed after the large tree smashed into their bedroom and suffers memory loss. Sherry still has problems with her shoulder from pushing debris away so she could crawl to safety.
Their nightmare began on a stormy garbage day. Len got up around 5 a.m. to put the garbage by the curb, went to the bathroom on his way back into the house then went back to bed. He last looked at the clock at 5:25 a.m.
His neighbours said the trees came down at 5:30 a.m. Sherry heard a brushing sound on the roof, like snow falling. “The next one was a big crash,” she said. It turned out that two trees hit their house.
Sherry had to push debris out of the way and crawl over broken glass from their bedroom windows to free herself. She heard a neighbour banging on their front door as she went to call 911. “I must have passed out.”
Len doesn’t remember the crash. “The next thing I remember is my neighbour is standing up looking into the room, there’s blood everywhere, and no sign of my wife.”
Len doesn’t remember getting dressed; just his neighbour insisting he needed to get into the ambulance, that he was hurt. It was the same neighbour who pulled him out of the wreckage of their bedroom.
“There is a silver lining to our misfortune,” says Len. “We found out a lot about our neighbours and our local first responders, both Alberni and Cherry Creek fire departments, the ambulance paramedics and the incredible West Coast General Hospital,” among many others, he said.
Len was transported by ambulance to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital with a head injury. He had a brain bleed and needed stitches in his head. Sherry was taken to WCGH in Port Alberni to be treated for her minor injuries. She said hospital staff kept her up to date on Len’s condition, calling Nanaimo hospital for updates. “Everyone was so fantastic.”
“We are very lucky to be alive and extremely fortunate to have recovered without any permanent disabilities,” Len said.
Len was released the next day, and the couple’s daughter came up from Victoria to be with them. The Readshaws discovered the RCMP had already secured their home, and both Alberni Electric and Paul Davis Restoration helped them right away.
The Readshaws are longtime Alberni Valley residents: Len worked at Alberni Pacific Division Sawmill and ran CC’s restaurant on Third Avenue about 35 years ago. He and Sherry owned Choice Chocolates and ran Orange Julius in the old Alberni Mall, and they managed the Tyee Motel for nine years.
The Readshaws are the only visitors at Cedar Wood Lodge: owners Tom and Marla Housholder are allowed a maximum of four people at their business, including them. There was no question that they would open up a room for the Readshaws when they heard of their plight.
“They’re looking after us remarkably well,” Len Readshaw said. They have a private room and access to all the common rooms. “Breakfast” has to be pre-packaged though, as no food can be shared due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Readshaws will be at the B&B for another two or three months while contractors continue to fix the damage to their mobile home. Len said they feel lucky.
“We are truly blessed to live in Canada and especially Port Alberni,” Readshaw said. “Our lives are returning to normal and we are not facing huge medical bills, have no long-term problems and have the memory of so many people helping us and reaching out to express their concerns for us.
“We wish we could name all who helped but do not know most of your names. Not wanting to miss anyone, we decided to hope you recognize yourselves and know you are truly appreciated.”
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