by Carol Druse
Special to the Sounder
It was Jan. 14 and Orcas Island was in the midst of a severe storm. Waves were crashing, logs and rocks were moving with the tides and ice was forming all along the shores of the island. Everyone was hunkered down as the temperatures hit some of the lowest ever seen. Wind chills were dipping into the negative digits.
Back home, in the Seattle area, our family was monitoring the weather in the San Juans. The news was alarming and our family thought about our North Shore cabin of 50 years and wondered how it was withstanding the wind and cold on Racoon Point. My brother had installed a WiFi thermostat a few years back so we could control and monitor temps in the cabin from afar. It was showing temperatures at the cabin below freezing. We wondered why the cabin was so cold. The electricity was working. My brother concluded that perhaps there was a hole in a window or a hole in the roof.
We immediately made a call to our neighbor to see if she could check the cabin out. As it was, she had just discovered that, yes, we did have a major problem: our skylight had flown the coop, leaving a large hole in the roof. We were three hours away and almost everyone on the islands was just trying to stay warm and out of the ungodly elements.
It was decided three of us would make the trip up to the cabin first thing in the morning. While riding the ferry over, they noticed, via the app, that the cabin seemed to be warming up. It was reading 45 degrees. Hmmmm, how could this be? They relayed this strange finding to the rest of the family. I responded with: “Maybe an angel came during the night and repaired the skylight!”
Little did any of us know that this statement would come to be the truth.
Our family arrived and luckily the winds had subsided during the night. They drove straight to the cabin knowing that the day ahead would be a very cold and unpleasant experience. Sure enough, there lay the broken skylight in the grass below. They then went into the upper field above the cabin to get a good look at the hole and were beyond shocked to see a brand-new skylight installed! How in the world could this have occurred? Who could have done this in the dark, in such bitter temperatures and conditions? They immediately went over to our neighbor to find out if she knew the answer. She had no idea. She told us she checked the house at about 5:30 p.m. the night before and at that point, our cabin had a huge hole in its roof. Who was this angel of the night who came to our rescue? The family asked others on the street who also had no idea. This was a mystery!
After much thought, the family crew decided maybe this person had gone to Island Hardware to purchase the skylight. Perhaps they could lead us to this Angel of the Night. They drove over and asked if anyone had purchased a skylight within the last 24 hours. While that was being researched, my brother mentioned why he was asking and how we had come to have a new skylight. Ah-ha, that rang a bell. The story had unfolded the previous afternoon online. Casey Leitz, owner of Orcas Window and Door LLC, had seen the photo of our house and set out to help. We immediately messaged Casey. He responded that he indeed was “The Angel in the Night” who had repaired our skylight.
Casey reported that someone coming down the hill on Raccoon Point Road noticed the damage to the cabin’s roof. They took a photo and posted it on the Facebook page “Orcas Island Inclement Weather & Road Reports.” Casey, at around 3:30 p.m., saw the post. He thought, “Maybe I can help these poor folks whose skylight was blown out and whose pipes would soon be freezing.”
He called a local contractor friend, Norm Flint, to see if he had a skylight that would fit the opening. To his amazement, Norm had one leftover from a previous job. A perfect fit! Casey then rounded up two of his crew: Jake Rorabough and Andrew Armas. They met at the house at about 6 p.m. and endured frigid cold temps and harrowing winds. They put up a ladder and climbed up to the slippery frozen roof. With just a pair of work gloves, Casey and his crew installed the skylight into place. He took breaks to warm his hands in his pockets as the frozen winds howled around them.
Thank you, Casey, Jake and Andrew of Orcas Window and Door for risking your lives and fingers and toes! You are all amazing and we are forever grateful to you!