Many in the region were still recovering Thursday afternoon from Wednesday night's powerful storm, which uprooted trees, damaged buildings and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes across the state.

Among them was Susan McKinney of Waltham, who opened the back door of her home Thursday morning and basically walked into a yellow and orange treetop resting on her back steps. The downed tree crushed her fence and ripped down power lines.

Waltham storm
The storm knocked down a tree, crushing a car and fence in Waltham .
Craig LeMoult WGBH News

"I do know the power lines are dead,” McKinney said as she ducked under branches and power lines to get her first close look at her Toyota Matrix in the driveway, which was demolished by the huge tree.

"Wow,” she said. “Wow. Jesus, that is bad.”

The tree trunk rested on top of the back of the crumpled car.

“You can see the broken glass in the back end of the car,” she said. “Oh, well. It's just a car."

Susan McKinney
Susan McKinney stands among downed power lines and branches as she looks at her demolished Toyota.
Craig LeMoult WGBH News

McKinney said she was relieved that the damage to the house looked minimal, and the second car in the driveway was just grazed. When the intense winds of the so-called "bomb cyclone" knocked the tree down a little after midnight, she said she thought it was an actual bomb.

“It's a big tree,” she said. “The whole house shook and I was startled out of bed. Heart pounding. I couldn't even figure out what was going on. The car alarms were going off. I couldn't get them to turn off. And obviously, I couldn't walk out my back door very well because the tree is over it."

So she went out the front door in the dark to see what happened, which she now realizes was a mistake.

"I didn't realize I stepped right over a power line, going to try and see what was going on," McKinney said. She doesn't know if it was live at the time.

Mixed in the tangle of branches was a downed utility pole. Amazingly, her house never lost power.

McKinney went online first thing in the morning to make a claim with her insurance company.

She said she knew the tree was rotting, but it belonged to the city, which didn't take it down. And she didn't want them to, because she really liked the tree.

"It was a beautiful tree, and it was all our shade in the backyard and it just made summer so nice back here,” she said. “And now it'll take another hundred years for that to be replaced. I won't be here."

Waltham tree
McKinney said she was relieved the tree didn't cause further damage to her house.
Craig LeMoult WGBH News

For now, though, McKinney said, she's relieved it’s up to the city to send a crew to take care of it.

"The circle of life,” she said with a laugh. “When the chipper shredder comes, it'll be complete."

McKinney acknowledged she has a good perspective on things, even as she stood among a ruined car and a mess on her property. Even though it looked pretty bad, she said, it could have been so much worse.

"It didn't rain in my house all night. That's a good thing,” she said. “And it didn't fall on me in the bedroom, which is right there."