After storm #039;Candy Man#039; counts blessings

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Mark Gruenewald and his wife Brenda were looking forward to a pleasant weekend, but wound up scrambling for their lives after what is thought to be a tornado raked their house, dropping several large pine trees on their home in Chapman.

"We just laid down and I said 'Mark I love you' because I didn't think we were going to make it," said Brenda, while members of the community worked to repair a large hole in their roof caused by a fallen pine. "I've never been so scared in my life."

Mark Gruenewald said at the height of the storm he and his wife scrambled around their house trying to find a place to shelter themselves.

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"We heard all the limbs hitting the side of the house so we ran in the living room and about that time a big tree came through the ceiling so we ran in the hallway," he said.

After the worst of the storm had passed the Gruenewalds fled their home with plans on driving to Georgiana to check on Mark's mother only to find a tree had fallen on their car, breaking its windshield.

"We just pulled the limbs off of it the best we could, backed out and took off," said Mark, standing near the car, which now had a blue tarp covering it to keep the rain out.

As soon as he was able, Mark Gruenewald said he called Larry Creech, who has a service station in Georgiana to see if he could help him remove some of trees off his house.

"He closed his shop down and brought his whole crew up here," said Mark, pointing to several men on top of his house working to frame up and cover the roof. "We've just got the best friends in the world. I just don't know what we'd do without them."

Brenda Gruenewald, whose husband is nicknamed the "Candy Man" for his practice of taking candy around to the elderly and to shut-ins, said the storm, could have been worse. It could have damaged the special room they built onto their house to keep all his candy in.

"Can you believe that," she said. "It wrecked most all of the rest of the house but didn't hurt that room."