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Hail To Mother Nature Greenhouses Take Beating, But Boy Scouts Come To The Rescue

Tue., July 11, 1995, midnight

For the Jacobson Greenhouses, Sunday’s storm was a real pane. Actually, about 3,000 of them.

About that many windows were knocked out by eyeball-sized hailstones at the greenhouses at 5904 S. Ben Burr Road.

About 5 p.m. Sunday, a drumfire of hailstones pelted the greenhouses for half an hour, causing about $50,000 worth of damage.

Owner Allen Jacobson, along with his staff and more than a dozen Boy Scouts, spent Monday picking up shards of glass in the greenhouses which sprawl over 1-1/2 acres.

“There’s not enough glass in Spokane to replace all of this, so we’ll have to get it shipped in,” Jacobson said.

His son Joel, along with his Boy Scout group, volunteered to help clean up.

“There was a bunch of damage, and they had limited workers,” said Joel, a 13-year-old who will be a seventh-grader at Chase Middle School this fall. “They needed some more help.”

At 9 a.m. Monday, the Scouts were scouring the greenhouses in hard hats and gloves, picking up blades of glass, some the size of a splinter, others the size of a sickle.

On the ceiling, some holes were near-perfect circles the size of baseballs.

On the floor, the aisles between each row of roses, some decapitated, were layered with glass pieces.

A few shards were sticking straight into the ground.

Some roofs had 4-foot-by-28-foot acrylic panels, strong enough to walk on, with holes imbedded in them from the hail.

Allen said they’ll cost about $400 each to replace.

About every 50 feet there was a 4-foot mound of hailstones that still hadn’t melted, despite 70 degree weather.

The Scouts loaded the glass into small buckets, then a large can, then a Dumpster that was filled by midafternoon, and finally a flatbed truck.

By the time the Scouts finished for the day, they had cleaned all but two greenhouses.

“It’s work and it’s service to the community,” said Joel, assistant senior leader of Boy Scout Troop 33.

“It’s fun, too. It gives you a chance to be with your friends.”

Allen was driving home from the lake during the storm while neighbor and caretaker Monty Simmons watched helplessly as glass showered on top of about 30,000 rosebushes.

Simmons tried to get a closer look twice.

The first time his bare skin was pelleted by the barrage. The second he put a plastic garbage can over his head.

“It was like 400 people shooting a slingshot at you all at once,” Simmons said.

By the time he was able to get close enough to see the greenhouses through the storm, half of the roof was simply gone, he said.

Along with the damage to the greenhouses, one of the two boiler rooms was flooded and Jacobson’s pumpkin plants were shredded. He still may lose more roses to mildew if they are exposed to too much cold air.

Trying to keep a positive attitude about having his greenhouses in shambles, Jacobson compared it to the problems caused by the Mount St. Helens’ eruption.

“We were covered with ash then,” he said. “This is just Mother Nature’s way of slapping you upside the head and letting you know who’s in charge.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Tags: weather

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