'That's what humans do for humans'

Steve Nash / Brownwood Bulletin
Off-duty Early firefighter Jay Wilder and officer Tasha Tobias stand next to Debra Mathis' pickup Friday morning. Three large tree branches broke off and fell onto the truck. Tobias and Wilder, along with other off-duty firefighters, showed up to help after Mathis called 9-1-1 to explain her situation.
Early resident Debra Mathis provided this photo of her Toyota Tacoma pickup after she got up Friday morning and saw that three large tree branches had broken off from the weight of the snow and crashed onto her truck.
Early officer Tasha Tobias and off-duty Early firefighters stand in Debra Mathis' yard Friday morning after arriving to remove three branches that fell onto her pickup.

EARLY — Having three large tree branches break off and bury your truck parked underneath wouldn't seem like a great way to start off the new year.

But for 64-year-old Debra Mathis, the quick response of an Early police officer and several volunteer firefighters Friday morning turned the proverbial lemon into lemonade.

 "I got some great help (Friday) morning, Definitely a feel-good story to start 2021!" Mathis said via email.

By email and in a phone interview, Mathis — a former Oregon resident who's lived in Early since 2008 — explained the situation after three branches from the cedar deodara tree in her front yard crashed onto her Toyota Tacoma pickup.

The 100-year-old tree is twice as tall as her two-story house on McDonald Drive, Mathis said. She thinks the weight of the New Year's Eve snowfall caused the branches to break.

Mathis didn't hear any indications of trouble before going to bed Thursday night.

But when she opened her front door to let her cats out around 9:30 a.m. on New Year's Day, she saw the spectacle.

Mathis went outside and was able to remove one of the branches off the truck, but not the other two. She thought a fireman could help — if she could find a way to talk to one.

Mathis called 9-1-1. "This really isn't an emergency," Mathis told the dispatcher who answered the phone. Mathis explained the situation, and the dispatcher said she believed she could get Maths some help.

Minutes later, Early officer Tasha Tobias showed up at Mathis' home. "I'm going to call some firemen," Tobias told Mathis.

Some off-duty members of the Early Volunteer Fire Department soon arrived. They were able to lift a branch off the truck, and used a saw to cut up the branch that remained.

"First day of the year, and all these people showed up," Mathis said. "I think what's important is that we have community. When you are part of a community, sometimes people just show up. That's what humans do for humans.

"The more we have community, the happier we'll be. I just feel so cheered up."

 Mathis, a musician, is retired. She moved from Oregon to Brown County to be near family.

Mathis' only regret: "I wish I had thought of moving my truck (Thursday) night," she said.