Massive tree removed from home after toppling and trapping 72-year-old Plant City woman during Irma

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s an 8 On Your Side success story — things are now starting to look up for a Plant City senior citizen who was almost crushed when a tree fell on her home.

Usually there’s a calm after the storm, but Thursday in Shari Bickhart’s front yard, there was a buzz of activity.

“It was great to see that they moved so quickly,” said Bickhart’s neighbor Christina Peters.

It only took seconds for Bickhart’s world to come crashing down. Now in minutes, things are changing.

“I thought, oh my goodness finally something is going to get done,” Bickhart said. “I can get back in my home.”

The 72-year-old was in her Lanier Road home when Irma blew though. The winds toppled a giant Water Oak. She was trapped and had to be rescued by Christina Peters, her neighbor and a former Marine captain.

“I wanted to help Shari out because she helps me out a lot,” Peters said.

Bickhart doesn’t have insurance and wasn’t sure how she was going to get the tree off her home and car. Peters called 8 On Your Side for help.

“I absolutely think this story helped Shari,” Peters said.

Just hours later, Hillsborough County crews were at Bickhart’s doorstep braving a thunderstorm to get the job done.

“I see a house with a limb on it and the limb will be gone soon,” Bickhart said.

Her car was not nearly damaged as bad as it seemed. The house is intact too.

Peters set up a GoFundMe account Wednesday to help raise money to get Bickhart back on her feet. The account already has more than $2,100.

“This is the time when she needs help,” Peters said. “She will never ask for it. She would have never come forward and asked anybody for help.”

But help is what she’s got. Another rescue by neighbors. Maybe finally, Bickhart can find her calm after the storm.

“I’m happy now and everything is going to be okay,” Bickhart said. 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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