MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Vietnam War veteran Lemmie Boothe Jr. has been unable to live in his home since it was damaged during last week's powerful storm.
But a group of kind strangers came together on Monday to make sure that Lemmie, who lives with a disability that makes it difficult to walk, is able to return.
"I ain't never heard of these people before, and all of sudden now, got more friends than I had. I gotta lot of friends now," said Boothe Jr.
The Vietnam War veteran, honorably discharged from the Army as a private first class in 1971, has been staying with family.
A large tree in his backyard crashed down on his home last Tuesday and knocked out his electricity.
The City of Milwaukee received more than 1,300 requests for tree removal following the storm. But neither the city nor power companies are required to remove trees from private property. Removal typically falls to private companies if the homeowner can afford it.
Fortunately for Lemmie, two crews from out of town were in Milwaukee cleaning up storm damage right across the street from his home.
They saw his tree and asked if they could help.
"We had talked to his daughter some, and she explained he didn't have homeowners insurance, a pretty tight budget, disabled vet," said Colten Sothman, owner of Down to Earth Tree Service.
"Disabled veteran, so, that just hit me in the heart. And I said, you know what, let me figure it out," said Jake Seidenstricker, owner of Jake's Top Notch Tree Service.
Seidenstricker and Sothman, old friends and fishing buddies, decided they'd clear the tree, at no charge, to allow the power company safe access to restore Lemmie's electricity.
It took the friends and their crews just a few hours to get the job done.
For days, Lemmie feared he would have to leave the house where he raised his children. It's also the home where his wife died of breast cancer in 2013.
"I told her [his wife before she passed] I wasn't going anywhere. And I'll be right here, too. I'm not going anywhere," said Boothe Jr.
Once his power is back on, Lemmie still has to find a way to pay for some serious damage to his home caused by the falling tree. Seidenstricker has launched a GoFundMe to help with the costs.