Members of a Buckhead family are grateful to be alive after a massive oak tree crashed through their house just after midnight Tuesday.

Blake Young

“The whole place is a mess. But we’re lucky, that’s the main thing,” said Blake Young, owner of the home at 141 Lake View Ave. “ It’s stuff, not people [that was harmed].”

Neighbors and bystanders watched April 12 as cranes and tractors swarmed the house to lift and remove limbs that gutted the middle of the home.

Young said he and his wife were still awake when the tree hit their home during a storm. He had just finished working in his home office and was walking down the stairs, he said, when the tree crashed into the room. “If it was 10 seconds earlier I would have been at my desk,” Young said.

His wife was in the bedroom, out of the tree’s path.

Young estimated  the tree was around 100 years old. It stood in his neighbor’s yard.

“The next door neighbor had it checked,” Young said. “With that drought we had and the winter we just had, it’s hard to predict when one of these old trees is going to go.”

Neighbor Susan Soper was watching from across the street as the tree was being removed. She said the sound of the tree falling could be heard from her house late last night.

“Most of us in the neighborhood heard it and woke up,” Soper said.

Matt Cathell, owner of the tree removal service clearing up the debris, said the damage to the house was extensive.

“We’ve taken probably 25 trees off houses in the last week and this by far is the worst from a damage standpoint,” Cathell said. “That house is basically destroyed.”

Cathell said the tree is a Southern Red Oak, which are prone to toppling over in bad weather.

“Southern Red Oaks have shallow root systems,” Cathell said. “I’m sure it’s because of the wind and the [wet] soil that made it fall over.”

Young said he and his wife will be staying in a guesthouse over the garage that was not damaged by the tree until their home is stabilized.

“We’ve got to get the house secured and get the stuff out of it,” Young said. “We’ve got a lot to do.”