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Neighbors lend hand when storm damages Purple Heart recipient’s truck, tractor

He’s seen combat. He’s even been wounded. But Purple Heart recipient Ernst Woodworth said he’s never seen the kind of devastation he saw Monday night on his own doorsteps.

Massive winds toppled an 80-foot tree on his farm near Downey around 7 p.m. Monday. It crippled his pickup truck, ripped the electric box from his house and laid waste to his only tractor.

“There was rain, there was hail, thunder and lightning and then it was gone,” Woodworth said.

Woodworth said he was watching from his living room window as the tree made contact with the truck he and his granddaughter were driving just moments before.

“We jumped out of the truck, made a run for the house and within about 60 seconds, the tree came down,” Woodworth said. “All of a sudden I couldn’t see the truck anymore.”

Woodworth’s neighbors watched Monday as lightning struck within feet of their homes.

“There was big sparks that flew in our house and lights went out,” said Wendee Kunzler, who lives across the street from Woodworth.

But when Kunzler saw the damage to Woodworth’s property, it wasn’t long before she and other neighbors came to lend a hand.

They spent much of Tuesday morning clearing debris and raking leaves from his front yard.

“We’ve just always wanted to help others when service needs,” Kunzler said.

Woodworth said it’s the one good thing to come of a very bad situation.

“All the people helping is a pretty refreshing thing in today’s society,” Woodworth said. “I guess I’m fortunate I live where I do.”

When asked if insurance would cover the damage, Woodworth told Local News 8 he’s still trying to sort that out.

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