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Storm Angels are a help in time of need

June 19, 1998|By SHEILA HOTCHKIN

The morning after powerful storms swept through Hagerstown and dropped a 60-foot tree on their home, Frank and Sharon Kronawetter got out of bed prepared to face the cleanup without even a morning cup of coffee.

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Their day was brightened by a phone call from a neighbor.

Sharon Kronawetter on Thursday recalled her morning conversation with Peter Frank: "He called and said, 'I've got some coffee on the grill. It'll be ready in 20 minutes. Just come on over.'"

For many Hagerstown residents, the assistance offered by neighbors - or even strangers - was the only good thing that came from the violent storm Tuesday evening.

These "storm angels" emerged shortly after the rain let up on Tuesday, and some were still on the job Thursday.

The Knox family began working the morning after the storm. They started at the homes of acquaintances, then moved on to people they had never met. The family of four, joined by friend Henry Murray, sought no pay for their labor.

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"They asked us to help, so that's what we're doing," said Carolyn Knox as she helped rake a Briarwood Drive yard.

The family put in more than eight hours on Wednesday, raking leaves and cutting up fallen trees and limbs. They returned as early as 6 a.m. on Thursday to continue the job.

"We're going to be out here for a while yet," said Norman Knox Sr., who was prepared to spend the rest of the week on the project.

Early Thursday afternoon, they stood outside debating the best way to pull a tree from a roof. Seven-year-old Norman Knox Jr. said he wouldn't mind climbing on the roof. "I'm not a scaredy-cat," he said, admitting only to a fear of snakes.

Sharon Kronawetter is familiar with those types of angels.

Her son's friend, Eric Zacot, sought a way to help her family with storm damage at their Columbia Road home. He "offered to push the tree off the roof," she said. She thought he was kidding.

Minutes later, she heard footsteps on the roof. Although she and her husband hastened to get him down, the Kronawetters appreciated the attempt.

Fountain Head Drive resident Connie Manger tried to think of a neighborhood good Samaritan as she raked fallen branches from her yard Thursday morning. While she said everyone had been very considerate, she struggled to come up with a name.

But a few words from a neighbor jarred her memory, and she realized with a start that she was married to a good Samaritan, Dr. George Manger.

He and his friend, Dr. Emmett Burke, went out with chainsaws after the storm to help area residents clear trees from yards and driveways.

"He is an angel," she said, smiling.

Neighbors often kept each other company during the cleanup and listened sympathetically to tales of woe.

Fran Martin, who is a secretary at Rest Haven Cemetery, said her neighbors began sharing stories as soon as they emerged from their basements Tuesday night.

"Everybody was like, 'What happened? What happened?'" she recalled.

Residents of Paradise Church Road worked together to haul away fallen trees, sympathized over a neighbor's trampoline that had been embedded in a tree and searched unsuccessfully for a wading pool that had been carried off by the strong winds.

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