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Iraq War veteran's Lakeside home destroyed by Tropical Storm Hilary

Iraq War veteran's Lakeside home destroyed by Tropical Storm Hilary
Posted at 5:07 PM, Sep 15, 2023

LAKESIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — A Lakeside homeowner and Iraq War veteran just learned the full scope of her loss weeks after Tropical Storm Hilary flooded her home.

As a hurricane turned tropical storm first started impacting the county that Sunday in August, Lakeside homeowner Karolyn Smith posted photos of cloud formations.

“I put on Facebook, ‘Oh my God, really, this is a hurricane?'” said Smith.

Hours later, the skies opened.

“Microburst wind, then torrent of rain,” said Smith.

In the kitchen of her three-bedroom home, a startled Smith captured a few seconds of water pouring out of her light fixture.

“Then it started coming down the door between kitchen and garage,” said Smith.

She also heard water behind her walls.

“It wouldn’t stop. Just kept coming and coming,” said Smith.

For hours, as the rain fell, water flooded every room in her home before the rain finally stopped.

Later, a friend climbed onto her roof and saw what happened.

“The wind had pulled up shingles on the roof, and the pergola was face up and down into the roof. It had stabbed a hole in the roof,” said Smith.

Days later, the kitchen ceiling collapsed.

A few days ago, the environmental testing company delivered the bad news: every room, and every surface was saturated with asbestos.

All of her possessions were lost. Smith, a disabled, Iraq War Army veteran who survived 13 roadside bombs, says the most painful losses are the dog tags and other belongings of friends killed in the war.

“It's like you lose the person again,” said Smith.

As for her home, she says most of it has to be taken down to the studs, and rebuilt.

“We never have weather in San Diego. To have a total loss, it's insane,” said Smith. “I always try to maintain perspective. No day is as bad as Iraq.”

Smith is insured, but about a third of her belongings won't be covered.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help her with expenses.