Trees crash through Bartow home with 99-year-old woman inside during Hurricane Irma

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — The family of a Polk County woman is devastated but thankful after two trees barely missed hitting the 99-year-old in her home during Hurricane Irma.

Gail Chamberlain’s grandmother, known as “Granny Dell,” sat in the hallway of her Bartow home Sunday night as the storm came roaring through. 

About 20 feet from the 99-year-old woman, two trees fell through the kitchen, dining room and parts of the living room.

“She’s gone through other hurricanes here,” said Chamberlain. “But she’s almost 100-years-old and she was bound and determined she was staying with her home. It’s a very tragic situation, but I’m just so thankful she made it through.”

The 99-year-old lived in the home for nearly 70 years and it’s where Chamberlain and her daughter both got married.

“My heart dropped. I knew it was a total loss, but seeing it in person is just horrible,” said Melissa Donnelly, Chamberlain’s daughter. “Things are just things and you can replace them, but if you’re 100-years-old, you’ve got 100 years’ worth of things that you have memories for and want to keep and hold onto and pass down.”

“Granny Dell” is set to turn 100 next month and had plans to live out the rest of her life at her home but that’s not looking likely due to the amount of damage, according to the family.


The family is currently working to salvage whatever they can from the home and make future living arrangements for the 99-year-old.

She is currently staying with a neighbor, but the majority of homeowners in the neighborhood remain without power.

As of Tuesday evening, about 60,000 Duke Energy customers in Polk County did not have power.

Duke Energy officials say it could take several days before the power is fully restored. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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