The Press Newspaper
Air Force veteran John “Jack” Gallagher thought he had seen it all while in
Vietnam. But nothing prepared him for what was going to go down as midnight approached on June 5.
Gallagher’s Trowbridge Road home was hit hard by tornadoes that crossed from Wood County over into Ottawa County that night. Gallagher, his wife, his daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend took the correct action — they went to the basement.
“It was pretty scary. I’d been watching the news on TV and saw it coming,” Gallagher said.
What many describe as sounding like a freight train, Gallagher compares the noise of an oncoming tornado to a fighter jet he knew so much about during his Air Force stint.
Once the tornado reached his home, all his family could do was sit back and listen.
After learning that a tornado had ripped through Lake Township on the night of June 5, Mike McAlear, of Perrysburg Township, immediately jumped into his vehicle and headed straight to his company, Service Spring Corporation, at 4370 Moline-Martin Road in Millbury.
“I was listening to Skywarn, turned on a transceiver for Lake Township and heard they lost a building. Then I did the prudent thing and drove out there,” said McAlear, a ham operator.
McAlear, who’s never before experienced a tornado, saw emergency personnel aiding victims as he made his way to his company. One woman, he said, was already dead.
“I got there about 11:45. I saw total devastation. The Lake Township building was pretty much in a million pieces. My two neighbors lost their houses. The one gentleman was born in his house. It shakes you up,” said McAlear.
His company, which manufactures spring mechanisms, mostly for the overhead garage doors industry, sustained moderate damage to one of three facilities. The remaining two facilities, about 50 yards east of the site, were totally destroyed.
“I lost those buildings completely,” said McAlear. “We have estimated $1 million in property damage.”
What does it feel like to be in the eye of a tornado? For Ronald and Janice Johns, of Millbury, it is something they wish they did not know.
Their home, located on Collins Road, is now a flattened piece of real estate thanks to the June 5 F-4 tornado that ripped through Millbury.
“It has been tough,” Janice said, choking back tears. “There is so much to think about right now.”
According to Janice, she had already developed the habit of grabbing important papers, wallets and money whenever severe weather was approaching. That Saturday evening would be the same.
“We heard the sirens and I grabbed my things to take them downstairs,” Janice explained. “We really did not take it too seriously at first. In fact, I was ready to go to bed.”
While she was taking the valuables to the basement, Ron went outside to see what was going on, Janice said. Minutes later, her husband ran into the home and told her to get downstairs immediately.
Mainstreet Church Pastor Marty Pennington has been a busy man.
During the week after twin tornados destroyed approximately 100 homes in Lake Township, he counted “upwards of 800 to 1,000 people coming in and out of our church to go out and help.” That includes only members from his church.
“We’ve done a lot of relief ministry and work out and about with the community. A lot of volunteers have come out of our church,” Pastor Pennington said.
Many of the church’s members live within the impacted areas of Millbury and Moline, said Pastor Pennington, including victims that lost homes and their lives.
Killed by the tornados were four members, including Ted Kranz, the father of surviving Lake senior class valedictorian Katelyn Kranz, and three members of the Walters family, including parents Ryan and Mary Walters and their four-year-old son Hayden. Pastor Pennington officiated all three funeral services as Mary and Hayden’s were combined.
Oregon Day, held at the city’s municipal complex in August for the last three years, will be replaced with a Fourth of July extravaganza this year.
Boomfest at the Grove, hosted by the city and BP Husky, will be held at Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Street on July 4 from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Besides fireworks, the event will feature live entertainment, a car show, and food and drink.
Mayor Mike Seferian said he decided to replace Oregon Day, which was started to celebrate the city’s 50th anniversary, because it failed to draw much of a crowd.
“This year, people expected it again,” he said.
But food vendors had lost money because of low turnout, and the public could watch the fireworks away from the municipal complex, he said.
“The city did a lot of work to set up the grounds. One year, there were only 30-40 people. Few came to the event,” he said. “People didn’t really buy anything from the vendors. There was nothing to hold them there. People parked around Starr Extension, and other places, to see the fireworks from miles away.”
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