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Brightwood Family Raising Funds For Tree Damage Rebuilding

By Adrian Knowler

Brightwood Family Raising Funds For Tree Damage Rebuilding

On January 18th, 2024, Stephanie Bixel thought that the worst of the January winter storm was behind her.

The Brightwood home she shares with her mother had been without power for several days, but it had recently come back online.

She had been relying on pellet and camping stoves for heat, but both had failed.

After temperatures plunged to single digits and froze pipes, she had also lost water for nearly a week, but it too had been fixed.

Then, during a period of howling wind and blizzard like conditions, a 125 foot cottonwood tree fell on her house, destroying much of the roof and patio covering. It also tore a hole in the wall, opening up the living space to the bitter conditions outside.

She couldn’t believe that the tree fell towards the house. Based on its location, she’d thought that the chance it would ever hit the house was very small.

“It was like a funny TV show or a horrible movie or something that didn’t feel real,” Bixel said of the ordeal in an interview. She said she didn’t know of any prior issues with the tree, which ended up destroying the entire second floor of the home she has owned for three years.

Nobody was hurt, and after some tarping and boarding up, the home was confirmed as safe.
She said a snow drift that had formed on the patio saved her from being crushed, and although she is okay, seeing the damage to her home is still difficult to process.

For Bixel, however, thet silver lining was seeing how members of the Mt. Hood community rallied together to help her and others affected by the storm.

In particular, Bixel thanked local emergency plumber Brian Taylor, as well as Martin Olmos for his help with urgent tree removal.

Although much of the damage should be covered by insurance, Bixel expects to be on the hook for about ten thousand dollars after the accident, mostly for tree removal work that won’t be covered. She has created an online fundraiser on GoFundMe, which as of writing had gathered around $700 from twelve donors.

Bixel, who is of Native American heritage, said that moving up to the mountain with her mother had long been a dream, and the destruction hasn’t shaken her love for the area she now calls home.

“I think this was a rare situation, but even if it wasn’t, I’m just going to make more plans to make sure I’m secure and my family is secure,” she said about the next storm.

She also plans to lend a helping hand next time to pay it forward.

“I wish I could have been the person to go help, but I’m so grateful that those people are out there.”

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