VIRGINIA

Alexandria man, recovering from heart bypass surgery, copes with Sandy

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Ralph Novoa was calm when he walked into his Alexandria home Tuesday night.

"I'd turn on the light for you. But...that would be a luxury," he said, half jokingly.

Immediately after walking inside, Novoa quickly turned right into a dark somewhat empty room.

The decor was several buckets placed neatly against each other so they could catch drops coming from the ceiling.

The cracks in the wall took the place of paintings.

But based on the damage, one ever would have believed what Novoa was about to show.

"This is the master bedroom," he said, as he opened the door.

His dresser was in pieces and the blue on the ceiling wasn't wall paper, but the darkening sky at dusk.

"This is a branch going to the floor below," he said, while pointing at one of the tree trunks that was now embedded into the decor of his bedroom.

"A few hours later, I would have been in bed right there," Novoa said, when he looked at the bed, which was still nicely made from the night before.

Hoping the power would last through the night, Novoa started making dinner Monday night.

He had placed the pork loin in the oven only to be disappointed shortly after when the power flickered and died.

He didn't want to give up on his dinner, so he decided to his friend's home down the street, where he could finish his roast.

It was during that time, one of the massive trees in his backyard crashed into his home.

"We've had more serious winds through here than this...this was just my time," he said.

This latest close call was just one of his fortunes.

Novoa, 70, just finished his rehabilitation after undergoing heart bypass surgery a couple months ago.

"My cup is half full. I'm still here," he said with a smile.

The Andersons across the street also felt lucky.

"We are blessed compared to your neighbors," said Elaine Anderson. "This tree was starting to sway. And I just said a prayer, I said, 'Lord, if you want your tree, you take it, but leave our little house alone."

Apparently, someone was listening because an hour later Sandy's strong winds yanked their huge tree from the ground.

"We heard a crash. We ran to our front window and he said, 'Oh my God, Elaine it's the tree you were talking about,'" she said referring to her husband.

The Andersons could not believe the massive tree came crashing down without damaging their home.

"I think prayer works. We had our angels," she said.

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