South Charlotte

Lightning and neighbors' kindnesses strike

The Martin family was watching the news on TV when a boom rattled the house.

“All of a sudden we heard a humongous bang and saw a bright white light, then the TV went out and half the power in the house was out,” said Lisa Martin.

Then they smelled smoke.

Scott Martin dashed out into the raging August thunderstorm to check for damage to the house. He found a hole and a small fire building in the attic.

The couple says what happened next illustrates the closeness of their Landen Meadows neighborhood, near the Blakeney shopping center.

The Martins' younger son, Jacob, 10, ran across the street to ask a neighbor to call 911.

Scott Martin rounded up older son Alex, 13, and the family's dog, Dixie. They ran out to their truck in the driveway to wait for the fire department.

“All of a sudden people just started coming,” Lisa Martin says. “A neighbor grabbed our garden hose and started spraying the house, and people just ran over asking us what they could do to help.”

A brigade formed to pull out irreplaceable family items, including Bibles and photos.

“Neighbors even went in and started moving furniture around, so when the fire trucks started spraying it wouldn't get hit with water,” she says. “We probably spent three hours outside and there had to be people from at least 10 households out there helping us.”

The Martins spent the night at a neighbor's home. They were able go to their own home the next day after the house had been rewired and repairs on the attic began. They felt lucky damage wasn't worse. Firefighters took about 15 minutes to arrive.

“The fire department told us there had been 250 calls that night for lightning strikes and the truck that came to our house came all the way from a station off Independence (Boulevard),” Lisa Martin says.

Another house nearby had been struck by lightning before, and the neighborhood response was similar, Martin says.

“We've lived here nine years and weren't surprised at all that people came to help us,” she says. “We're grateful, but not surprised. The people on our street and who live on streets nearby are just good people. It was really heartwarming.”