The Press Newspaper
In the two weeks since the tornado devastated areas of Wood and Ottawa county, individuals, businesses and organizations continue to look for ways to reach out and help the victims of the twister.
In the past week, fundraisers of all kinds – everything from garage sales, barbecues and dart tournaments – have been held throughout the region, and plans call for more efforts in the weeks ahead.
There are also several Facebook pages devoted to helping local tornado victims, along with a page devoted to nominate Lake High School for the TV show, “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition” (search Extreme Makeover Home Edition: Lake High School).
Here is a sampling of ways to help:
Luckies Barn and Grill employee Casey Parker was in the wrong place at the right time — or maybe the right place at the wrong time.
Parker, from North Toledo, and her fiancé, Bill Cousino, were at the “Beach House” — the nickname for the home of Russell and Tammy Beach on Main Street in Millbury when tornados struck June 5.
“It was interesting, that’s for sure. The house we were at, my fiancé plays softball with them, and fortunately we were there with them. They had the softball team over for a cookout and a party. It was about six people that lost their cars, and the house that we were in was pretty bad. We were very, very lucky, that’s for sure,” Parker said.
“Thank God we were there. Everybody’s houses were gone, you know, and our house was kind of like the safe house because it was still standing. The guys and girls and everybody helped out. In 45 minutes the ambulance and fire department was there they were pulling people out of the rubble. It was definitely scary,” Parker continued. “Everybody knew to go to the Beach House that evening. He had a generator that was running.”
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.
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