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What Happens After Lightning: How A Family Deals

By Brianna McCord

There were more than 71,000 lightning-related home insurance claims in 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute. If 2021 tops that, Susan and David Pagenstecher will be part of the reason.

The Pagenstechers’ home in Madera Reserve was struck by lightning about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 10, and they estimate it’ll take a couple of months before things are back to normal.

“I thought the world was ending,” Susan said of the lightning strike. “Our whole house lit up. Then there was a loud crack and that’s when it just went dark. It was scary.”


The lightning struck the garage, punching a hole in the roof and scratching a vehicle. It took out most of the electrical outlets, the refrigerator and a new entertainment system.

“We thought it was the end of the world, but it looked like the end of the world in our garage,” Susan said.

“It was a little disheartening,” David said.

After the excitement, the couple got right to work putting things back in order.

“We both just kind of decided to call the 800 numbers and hit the road running,” Susan said. “There were seven people we called during the next couple of days.”

The list included their insurance company, an electrician, a roofing company, Cox Communications and Best Buy.


“The electrician was the first one,” Susan said. “They charged us an emergency $300, but we had to have them out here so we knew what was going on.”

Replacing the dead refrigerator was also high on their priority list, but not before turning the clock back to when people used ice boxes to keep food cold.

“For a while, we put ice in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator and it worked pretty good,” Susan said. “But after two days, it just turned to water, so I went and got a cooler and ice. I get three bags of ice every day and put it in the coolers.”

Susan and David are still waiting for a final estimate on what everything will cost but have done some figuring of their own.

“I just put in a whole new (entertainment) system six months ago and it cost about seven grand,” David said. “The TV is another three. The refrigerator, if they fix that, that’s another three. Maybe $15,000 or something plus the garage.”

“It’s going to go on for a while I think,” Susan said. “Just the garage and just getting everything done is going to take a couple months.”


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