Resident demanding help, answers from her 2015 request after tree destroys home
MONTPELIER - A woman's mobile home has been destroyed after a large tree fell through it during a tornado. Now she's looking for help to move forward.
Cindy Bankston says she was lying in her bed when it happened.
"All I heard was glass shattering everywhere," she said. "My bedroom wall was leaning against my head."
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw the large tree trunk inches from her face. Bankston says she feels blessed to be alive, but being on a fixed income isn't sure where to turn next.
That tree blew over during the same EF0 tornado that took out part of Bear Creek Western Store.
Bankston received some assistance from the Red Cross and has started a fundraiser to help raise recovery funds. A church has also offered to help raise funds.
"I do know that I need help, I need help to get this tree removed," said Bankston.
She's asked for that help recently and years ago. In 2015, Bankston says she went before the town council and mayor to ask that the ditch running along her property be properly cleaned. Bankston says the trees in and along the ditch are town property because they're in the servitude.
The minutes from that town meeting on October 12, 2015, say that Mayor Kenny Giardina would contact the town's legal counsel to determine if the ditch Bankston's concerned over is in the town right-of-way or part of her property. The minutes go on to say that once that information is determined, the responsible party would clean out the ditch and do their part to correct the problem.
Wednesday, 2 On Your Side contacted Mayor Giardina who said the town is "trying to figure that out now" in terms of who's responsible for the trees and the maintenance of the "alleyway" between Bankston's property and her neighbor's property. The research was never completed in 2015.
"They did not do anything," Bankston said.
A friend has offered to help cut up and remove the tree from her property but Bankston is worried about the rest of the trees that are at risk of falling. One of them has been uprooted and is leaning up against another tree.
"Why didn't y'all clean the ditches before, this would have never happened," Bankston said.
Looking forward is hard to do, but Bankston doesn't have any choice. She'd like to purchase a travel trailer to live in on her property, but town ordinance prevents her from doing that.
She plans to attend Monday's town hall meeting to get answers about who's responsible for maintaining the ditch and the trees growing in and alongside that ditch.