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Home Special Sections Progress Ottawa County: Life getting back to normal for victims
Ottawa County: Life getting back to normal for victims

Although the local tornado-related fatalities occurred in Lake Township in Wood County, the storm caused extensive damage in Ottawa County where it also injured residents.
 
Jack Gallagher’s Trowbridge Road home was hit hard.
 
Gallagher and his wife, daughter, and his daughter’s boyfriend had been watching the weather reports on TV and went to the basement as it approached.
 
Once the destruction above them silenced, they went upstairs.
 
“It’s damaged, broke every window but two. It tore up the front porch. I have a shingled porch and it’s gone. It collapsed my pole barn. It did a lot of stuff. Then, the roof is damaged and the rain came in,” Gallagher said at the time. “We have to bring a structural engineer in to recertify the building or they are going to tear it down. They are going to have to redo the entire inside or start from the foundation.”

Gallagher and his family had their home refurbished and they returned by the end of October.
 
“Everything is pretty much back to normal,” he said recently. “There are just a couple of little things but we’re back in. Luckily no one was injured.”
 
The home next door of Edward and Christine Claus was destroyed.
 
“I came out to get an idea what had happened to our house, and I just happened to look and wonder, ‘Where is Ed’s house?’ I couldn’t see a shadow or anything and I was sure it was gone,” Gallagher said. “I said, ‘Well, I’m going to go over and look for Ed.’ So some of my neighbors and I went over and looked for Ed and we found him in what probably once was his crawl space. He was lying between an overturned car and another car and was hurt badly.” 
 
“It turns out he was going for the crawl space and didn’t make it, and his wife wouldn’t go for the crawl, so she was in an interior bathroom. He said something about his wife or we decided that she wasn’t around, so we started looking for her and heard something coming from out in the pond, and she was laying on some debris in the water with her head barely above water unable to fend for herself.”
 
Matt Bell, his daughter’s boyfriend, and a neighbor retrieved Mrs. Claus from the pond. Another neighbor, Pat Beck, a nurse, began to care for Mrs. Claus.
 
The Claus’s were transported to area hospitals for treatment. They too are back in their home.
 
Gallagher said the families in the neighbourhood held a roast on Labor Day and the consensus was “Let’s put it behind us.”
 
“Everything is a lot better now,” he said. “Now it’s just a bad memory. It makes you grateful for what you have and not complain so much.”
 
For Gary Baker and his family, a camping outing in Williams County was cut short by the storm systems that spawned the tornadoes that struck in Ohio and Michigan.
 
They raced home to Williston from a Nettle Lake campground just minutes ahead of the storm.
 
“The sky looked really ominous behind us,” he told The Press. “We got on the turnpike and we were only ahead of it by 10 minutes or so.”
 
Only five minutes passed after they pulled into their Toledo Street home and the emergency sirens sounded, he said.
 
The storm flooded Baker’s yard but his home didn’t suffer structural damage.
 
Two days after the tornado, the Allen Township Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting and approved a resolution declaring the township a disaster area.
 
The trustees also waived zoning permit fees for 42 residences affected by the tornado and waived the zoning process for using trailers for housing during reconstruction.
 
The waivers were in effect until Dec. 31.
 
Meteorologists from the National Weather Service conducted an extensive survey of the tornado’s path in Wood and Ottawa counties and determined it reached an intensity of 4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, indicating wind speeds reached 170-175 miles per hour.
 
The tornado path stretched eight to 10 miles and was 300-400 yards wide.
 
The Weather Service said a funnel touched down east of Perrysburg near the Ohio Turnpike and Oregon Road at 11:20 p.m. and moved across the southern portion of the Moline area of Lake Township. It then moved across the northwest portion of Millbury before entering Ottawa County along Trowbridge Road.
 
It lifted at 11:35 p.m. just west of the Village of Clay Center.
 
According to the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency, the tornado left 11 homes destroyed, 14 with major structural damage, seven with minor damage, and 14 others were affected.
 

 

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By: J. Patrick Eaken

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