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Elderly woman needs help paying for tree removal after tree falls on her home

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - An elderly East St Louis woman says she’s lucky to be alive after a tree fell on her home Monday night. On top of that, she can't afford to have it removed and pleading for the community's help.

The tree that crashed into 75-year-old Aremelder Woolens’ home caused severe damage to the residence but said it was divine intervention after the tree barely missed her. Without insurance, Woolens said she has no way of removing the tree or repairing the damage.

She’s been stuck in her home for days without power.

A strong thunderstorm rolled through the Metro East Monday, with high winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour.

“We were sitting in the living room and the house began to shake and within seconds, the tree hit the house,” said Woolens.

The huge tree fell on top of the home in the 2500 block of Forest Street, leaving a big hole

“Thank God we did not get hurt,” she said. “The house can be fixed.”

With that pain comes a hefty bill to remove the tree. She has no insurance and has been without power for days.

The utility company said in order to restore power, the tree must be removed so they can get to the power lines. She just can’t afford that bill, so she sits in her hot home pleading for help, afraid to leave her residence for fear it may be burglarized.

“If they come in, they would take what we have and the stuff that we really need,” Woolens said.

The lot where the tree fell belongs to St. Clair County and she was told there is nothing they can do. Fox 2/KPLR 11 made some phone calls to the agency and have yet to hear back. East St. Louis city leaders were not aware of the situation.

The East St. Louis Fire Chief Jason Blackmon arrived within the hour after our phone call and said the city would do whatever it takes to assist Woolens.

“We went back there to assess the situation. I've been in contact with public works department, so we are going to try and take care of the tree over here to pull the tree off the lady’s house,” Blackmon said.

The chief also called the American Red Cross, who offered Woolens lodging for a few days as the city works to remove the tree so the power can be restored. Woolens will still have to come up with the money to repair the damage.