The Press Newspaper
Athough her office computer had been sitting in two inches of water, Jeanne Rogacki, office manager for the Lake Township Police Department, had it working after drying it out in the hours following the June 5 tornado that destroyed the township administration building.
“I was so concerned, payroll is this week,” she said, adding the computer used by Police Chief Mark Hummer was also salvaged.
Contractors, township personnel, and volunteers had the former Ohio Highway Patrol post on Lemoyne Road – the police department’s new temporary quarters – operational in less than a week after the tornado hit.
Ironically, the township trustees last year approved purchasing the building and property, which has been vacant since 2007 when the Highway Patrol opened a new Wood County post near Bowling Green, and planned to take their time to convert it into an emergency operations center.
The facility is equipped with a 140-foot radio tower and a back-up generator.
Police emergency dispatching service is still being routed through the Northwood Police Department’s 9-1-1 system
Last week, Daniel Beaudoin, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Stony Ridge, organized volunteers to help clean up the wreckage in the wake of the tornado that hit the Millbury area last weekend. He is coordinating efforts to salvage victims’ possessions scattered by the twister.
“Originally, we had four work teams going out to four different sites,” said Beaudoin. “We have four families from our church who have been directly affected by the tornado.”
One family lives in Moline, where their property suffered minor damage, he said, with uprooted trees and broken tree limbs. The other three families, he said, who lived near Lake High School, lost everything.
“Two of the families lived in two farmhouses between the Lake Township police station and high school. Their homes were destroyed. Further west, on the other side of the railroad tracks, between Moline and Lake High School, is a young family with three children.”
It was about 11 o`clock Saturday when Debra Chalfin got the text on her phone from a local TV station alerting her to a tornado warning just issued in her area.
The family, who lives in the Wood-Lake Mobile Home Park on Cummings Rd., in Millbury, did just what they were supposed to – they planned to head to their designated “safe place,” which happened to be just down the road at Lake High School.
Wasting no time, Debra rounded up her family – her husband Dean, daughters Danielle Chalfin and Jennifer Knoblock ,stepson Eric Eischen and Lincoln, the family dog, and got in the car.
When they got to the school, they called 9-1-1 to arrange to be let in, and members of the Lake Township Fire Department responded.
As they were waiting for the doors to open, the lights went out. “We were still standing outside, and we looked up and saw the tornado coming,” Debra said.
Once they were let inside the building, the family and the firefighters found an alcove in a hallway and hunkered down to ride out the raging storm outside.
“We got situated and were sitting down like we were supposed to; in less than five minutes it hit,” she said. “We could feel it. We heard a lot of wind, and all of a sudden, all of this debris started coming down the hallway.”
On the evening of Saturday, June 5 as the clock closed in on midnight, local television news broadcasters announced that two people were killed in separate incidents along State Route 795 in Lake Township.
It was at that time that most Northwest Ohio residents might have realized that a tornado outbreak occurring simultaneously was going to have serious consequences. Most may not have realized just how serious, yet.
Four Lake Township residents and one Woodville resident would be killed as an F-4 tornado created its own path of destruction beginning at Friendly Village trailer court on Tracy Road, passing through Moline, along Route 795, heading into Millbury, and then on past Blackberry Corners and Route 579 in Ottawa County.
Millbury residents losing their lives are Ted Kranz, 46, Mary A. (DeFriece) Walters, 36, and Walters’ four-year-old son, Hayden D. Walters.
Bailey Bowman, 20, of Walbridge, and Kathleen E. Hammitt, 56, Woodville, were most likely the two women first announced killed as the tornado caught up to them while in automobiles heading along Route 795.
Memorials have been set up for all five of the deceased and readers may comment at www.presspublications.com.
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