SalisburyPost.com - Area - Hugo remains the storm to measure all others by:
Gene Watson says it happened one, two, three.
His power went off about 6 a.m., the wind roared in and his cherished white oak tree was down.
The only remnant was a mammoth stump, which from his kitchen window looked like a front-yard statue.
Hugo had taken Rowan County's oldest and largest white oak, where Confederate soldiers had once sought the shade it provided off Sherrills Ford Road.
By 1989, the tree's canopy measured 150 feet wide, its trunk 8 feet across and the trunk's diameter about 28 feet around.
Miraculously, the tree missed Watson's house and a neighbor's car by 10 feet.
'I had a mess,' he recalls.
Some neighbors came to his rescue. They offered to clear the debris for free if they could have the wood.
'I put my hand out and said, 'You've got a deal,'' Watson says.
It took them two months of working in the afternoons and on weekends.