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Posted on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

One year later: Tornado that tore Dexter apart also brought community together

By John Counts


Mercedes Barcia stands on a side porch that looks over her neighbor's yard in the Orchard River Hills subdivision in Dexter. The tornado leveled the house next door and caused extensive damage to her own home.

Melanie Maxwell |

It started out as an abnormally warm late winter day one year ago.

By the time night fell on the Dexter area March 15, 2012, however, a tornado had twisted its way over the region, irrevocably changing the landscape and the residents who live there.

It came in quick and unpredictable, bringing down entire homes in its 7.2 mile path. It lifted roofs off homes and shattered windows. It ripped 100-plus-year-old trees from the ground as if they were toothpicks and left them toppled in backyards and roads. When it was over, the storm had affected 266 homes, caused $9.1 million in damage and cost agencies an additional $1.2 million in municipal debris cleanup, figures from Washtenaw County's emergency management division show.

The 2012 Dexter tornado

Stories from past coverage:

A year later, most of the leveled homes have been rebuilt. Hundreds of trees felled by furious, 145 mph winds have been cleared from the earth and turned into wood chips and replanting projects are under way. For the most part, people in Dexter have resumed their lives.

Still, some effects linger. Glass from broken windows is buried in the blades of yard grass because many insurance companies would not pay for a lawn vacuuming. Some residents, like the Molnars of Carriage Hills, chose to undertake home remodeling projects and continue to live in construction zones. Sixteen new tornado sirens dot Dexter Township. More are planned across Washtenaw County.

Despite its fury, the great storm could not break the spirit of the Dexter community, though. A year later, officials and residents say the storm brought them closer together.

“The healing process was embraced by the community at large,” said Dexter Village President Shawn Keough. “You realize just how important the basic elements of your everyday life really are. It’s truly a blessing that nobody was hurt or killed. We feel very thankful for the simple elements of life: a home, car, your own bedroom, a roof over your head. If we weren’t thankful for those things before, I think we all are now.”

Tornado stories

The twister first touched down at 5:17 p.m. northeast of North Territorial and Dexter Townhall roads. At that point, it was what the weather service classifies as an EF-1 tornado. The weather service rates tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita Scale from EF-0 to EF-5. The Dexter tornado was an EF-3 storm at its strongest point with winds of 135 to 140 mph.

The storm hit everyone a little differently. A few lost their homes entirely. Many had roof and shingle damage. Some lucky folks escaped any destruction altogether.

But everyone who was in the Dexter area that day has one thing in common: a tornado story.

The stories have some common features: Where were you when the storm hit? What did the storm sound like as it was coming in? What did the sky look like?

Duane Newland, who lives in the Loch Alpine neighborhood, was at Bel-Mark Lanes getting ready to roll a few frames. Mercedes Barcia, of Orchard River Hills, said the tornado sounded like a freight train. Katrina Williamson said when she saw the storm from the window of her Huron Farms home it looked as if the sky where whirling like the inside of a cotton candy machine.

Nowhere were those stories told more often than at the Family Barber Shop on Main Street in downtown Dexter, said Maryann Doletzky who cuts hair there along with her dad, Dick, who has been a barber in the same Main Street storefront for 50 years.


Dick Doletzky, tending to Dennis Bristow, and daughter Maryann heard a lot of tornado stories at the Family Barber Shop on Main Street in downtown Dexter.

John Counts |

“It’s funny being in here,” she said. “Everyone for the first month was like, ‘Where were you at during the tornado?’ We still talk about tornado stories in here.”

In addition to running a Main Street barbershop for half a century, the Doletzky family once owned the farmland where the one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods was eventually built. That neighborhood, Carriage Hills, was the first one hit by the tornado as it made its southeasterly swipe at the region.

Dick and Maryann Doletzky both live on nearby Fleming Road in separate homes, along with other members of the Doletzky clan. The damage to their homes and property paled in comparison to the destruction of Carriage Hills, they said.

Maryann’s roof was pulled away from the house and wasn’t fully repaired for several months after the storm. Most noticeable a year later, she said, are the missing trees that have opened up the once-wooded neighborhood.

“The landscape has changed,” Maryann said.

It had been reported that some of the trees were likely 100 years old. Dick Doletzky said some of the trees had to be older than that.

“I’m 72 years old and they were old trees when I was a kid,” he said with a laugh.

‘A whole different neighborhood’

Carriage Hills resident Fred Molnar said he lost about 30 trees on his three and a half acres, a few of which were very old.

“It’s a whole different neighborhood,” he said.

While the downed trees have been mostly cleaned up on his property, inside the Molnar house is a whole different story. The home on Timber Hill Court still is very much under construction.

Studs and trusses are still visible throughout Molnar’s house. Tools and building materials are strewn about. Molnar said he and his family, which includes his wife and three children, have lived in the house without a kitchen since the storm damaged their house, blowing down a wall.


The Molnars' house in Carriage Hills, as seen last week, is one of the last to still be under construction in the Dexter area.

John Counts |

“It’s really hard,” Molnar said about living without a kitchen for so long. “We have a stove here, a sink and a microwave, that’s pretty much it.” Molnar’s quick to admit that it was all by choice. The storm offered him the opportunity to tackle a much-larger remodeling project, including putting in a new kitchen, which wasn’t damaged in the storm.

“If we wouldn’t have done this stuff internally, we would be done right now,” he said. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Molnar has his own storm story, of course. He watched it roll in from his back porch.

“When you see that stuff on TV, you really can’t relate to it,” he said. “Now that I’ve gone through it, it’s a whole different perspective.”

Molnar had a shoulder operation just days earlier.

“The biggest event of my life and I’m in a sling,” he said with a smile. “I was so helpless.”

His neighbors came to his aid, helping him cut and clear fallen trees from his property.

“I think everyone’s pulled together,” he said.

Thousands of trees

After hitting Carriage Hills, the tornado tore south down Dexter-Pinckney Road and over the golf course at Hudson Mills Metropark, uprooting hundreds of trees.

“There used to be gigantic trees through here,” said Dexter Fire Chief Loren Yates while driving Dexter-Pinckney Road last week. “In the summer, it would just be a canopy.”

There are barely any trees left lining the side of the road. The nearby golf course also suffered extensive tree loss, said Troy Rice, the course’s maintenance supervisor, who estimated that thousands of trees were uprooted.

“It was sad to see (the loss) of some of the more mature trees from the grounds,” he said.

In fact, there are still some trees knocked down by the storm that lie where they fell, specifically on the sixth and seventh holes. Some of the damage in the park will be memorialized with signs along the new West River Bike Trail, Rice said, who added that if anything, the storm had actually improved the course.

Flying sheds and trampolines


Chris and Katie Cramer watch as their home is picked apart by a backhoe after it was destroyed by the tornado days earlier.

Angela Cesere | file photo

What still surprises many a year later is that, despite the immense destructive nature of the storm, no one was injured — let alone killed. Also surprising to officials like Yates is how the tornado seemed to hop across the area.

“It’s amazing how a tornado will hit one area, pick up and miss the other area,” he said.

After sweeping through the golf course, the storm headed south toward the businesses along Main Street. And completely missed them.

Except, that is, for the Village Car Wash and Laundry on Second Street, which was not standing at the end of the day. The car wash still has yet reopen, but is under construction. The owners did not wish to participate in this story.

Breanne Buschlen, a waitress at the Dexter Coney Island, lives down the street from the car wash. She also has a tornado story.

“You could feel the walls shaking,” she said about being in her apartment that day. “Someone’s shed flew by and hit a telephone pole. There was a trampoline wrapped around the railing.” For months, the tornado was the topic of conversation at the coney restaurant. Not so much anymore, Bushlen said.

“Overall, you don’t hear that much about it anymore,” she said. “A lot of people are happy because their houses are rebuilt. Most people have moved back into their homes is what I’ve heard.”

‘The house that is no more’

This is true for most of the residents in Huron Farms, people like Katherine Pfeiffer and Matt and Heather Leszczynski, whose homes were both extensively damaged in the storm.

It’s also true for Barcia, who lives in the 7100 block of Wilson, right next to the empty slab where a house destroyed by the tornado was never rebuilt. Barcia calls it “the house that is no more.”


Mercedes Barcia created a scrapbook of photos showing the damage. Pictured is a view of the front of her home.

Melanie Maxwell I

Barcia’s house was ripped in half, with only the two bedrooms left standing, she said. While she may be back in her house, which was finished in August, she doesn’t feel completely settled.

“It’s coming up on a year and my anxiety level is high,” she said. “Now, whenever there’s bad weather I get anxious.” As for the empty lot next door, she said she last saw the man who owned the house in August when he told her he was planning to rebuild.

Tax records show the man who owns the property is Mechial White, the musician profiled by a day after the storm. Attempts to reach White about what he plans on doing with the property were unsuccessful.

One-year anniversary

Keough said he’s heard different reactions from people about what they plan to do for the one-year anniversary Friday. Some folks in Dexter told him they plan on being around and attending an open house at LaFontaine Chevrolet, at 7120 Dexter-Ann Arbor Road.

Others don’t plan on being anywhere near Dexter because of the bad memories, he said.

Those who attend the open house, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m., can apply to get help from the Dexter Tornado Relief Fund, which still has about $37,000 in it, Faith in Action director Nancy Paul said.


Clouds are reflected Monday, March 13, 2013 on the wet pavement in front of a home that was totally destroyed in the Dexter tornado in the Huron Farms subdivision. It has not been rebuilt.

Melanie Maxwell |

The money will be available mostly for tree replanting efforts and the glass-in-the-grass problem, she added.

The relief fund, established quickly after the tornado hit, will soon quietly be shut down. It raised about $330,000 in the months immediately following the storm.

“We want to spend the money. For the most part, we have the sense that most people’s emergency needs have been taken care of,” Paul said. “From our side, it feels good to be done.”

There will be food, games and a video booth for storytelling at the event, as well.

Another event marking the one-year anniversary is the Dexter F 3.1 Tornado Run/Walk, which will be held Friday night at Hudson Mills Metropark starting at 7 p.m.

Emergency officials say they are even more prepared now than they were a year ago. Yates said everything went as smoothly as it could last year. The only glitch he could think of were some issues with a new communications network that allows one agency to talk to another.

Marc Breckenridge, director of Emergency Management for Washtenaw County, also said there were some communication problems as a result of the new system, but they have since been worked out.

“We think we’re ready again for another one,” he said.

More sirens are expected to pop up around the county, as well. Dexter Township put up 16 since the tornado. A federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security will aid in getting about 27 more throughout the county, Breckenridge said, meaning that 75 percent of the population will be within earshot of a siren. That number is currently around 65 percent. Where the sirens will go is still being determined.

Breckenbridge believes sirens played a crucial role in getting people to safety during the tornado.

“That’s why we think there were zero injuries and zero deaths,” he said.

That was one thing officials and residents agreed on: No matter how devastating the storm was to homes and possessions, no one was hurt.

And now that the major cleanup is over, officials and residents also agree that the same storm that tore so much apart also brought the community together.

“I think that spirit still lives,” said Newland, a Dexter Rotarian who plans on helping out with Arbor Day tree plantings. “I think the community has strengthened as a result.”

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

We are one of the owners of Dexter Car Wash and Laundry and we just wanted to clarify that we did supply comments to the author of this article. We just weren't able to connect voice to voice with the author before this article was published. We have been working hard with the insurance company to rebuild the business and are looking forward to providing car wash and laundry services again. We apologize for the delay in reopening and we wished it could have been sooner.

harry b

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

My car was hit with hail. I am taking up a collection to help me with the expenses. Can anyone help?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 5:43 a.m.

I don't understand why there are 16 new tornado sirens. Were there not enough to provide adequate warning? If that is not the case, then its a terrible waste of money and exploitation of the people because the things certainly don't scare tornadoes away.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 10:06 p.m.

I was home here and my husband called and said a tornado had been reported in Pinckney. We don't have a basement and the weather was beautiful. The 3 dogs, our cat and I went out back and I proceeded to video the beautiful clouds to the south. They were amazing, giant billowing things. Then I saw wisps of dark gray clouds below them being sucked north at a high rate of speed. This too was fascinating. We continued to lounge around out there and suddenly the hail started. It went on and on and we all ran into the house and I continued to video out the windows and door. I saw the firetrucks going by heading west out Island Lake Rd. They must have realized they could not get down Dexter-Pinckney because of all of the damage. In retrospect I must have been temporarily insane. I had never seen anything like that. Afterwards I realized that the tornado had turned and headed into Dexter just over a quarter mile from our house. If it hadn't...we would all have been injured or killed.

Ann Dwyer

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

Like I said above, we napped. And the tornado was very close to us. We were just so surprised by the size of the hail! Then it turned to hard rain. Traffic kept roaring by. We were lulled into a false sense of security. Then it was all emergency sirens and texts asking about our safety.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

We watched the storm form from a common wall cloud to a fully functioning and charging tornado in our backyard on Fleming Road. At first, the wall cloud was to our northwest so we had figured that it would just blow on over to the northeast or fizzle out altogether. The next thing we saw were about 30 or so crows flying in a panic over our backyard and then settling into our small woodlot. Right after that, was the tornado coming from behind the woodlot and tearing on down to the Carriage Hills subdivision and from there head down Dexter-Pinckney. We didn't realize how bad it was until we saw dozens and dozens of ambulances and firetrucks heading down Fleming, which turned out to be the only clear way into the subdivision. Less than a half a mile away, wind speeds were 140 mph. My electronic weather station only registered the highest wind speed as 37 mph. It's been a long recovery for many of our neighbors but we are truly awed that there were no serious injuries or deaths.

Ann Dwyer

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

The tornado was less than a quarter mile away...and we napped through it. There were no sirens out were we live and we had no power. Now there's a siren. Unfortunately right by my house.

Ann Dwyer

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

I was in town when the sirens went off. But since we couldn't hear it from our house, I thought it was just a bad hail storm. The news before our power went out mentioned a possible funnel cloud, but it looked like it was going to miss us. And to think, I grew up terrified of getting caught in a tornado.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

Sirens have a one mile radius, so if you live on the outskirts of things then they wouldn't have been audible. Now I am sure you'll wake up in a flash.

Rork Kuick

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

I couldn't hear any sirens either, but the noise coming from the west was sufficiently convincing. Like deeski below, I thought the storm was missing us to the north, but it's that southern-most little finger that ya gotta watch.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

"Breckenbridge believes sirens played a crucial role in getting people to safety during the tornado." They sure made a difference for me. No sooner had I arrived in Dexter (on an errand) than the tornado siren started blaring. I couldn't see anything in the sky but dark clouds but decided to turn around quickly and drive back to Ann Arbor. Remembering, I walked home after dropping off a Zipcar and was wearing no jacket, just "summer type" street clothes. So I had to check back on the temperature recorded for March 15, 2012. Turns out, the max temp. that day was 75º. A record, but the tornado of course wiped out any mention of it.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

looking out the window today, it's hard to believe we had that kind of spring weather 1 year ago.

John Counts

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

I was thinking the same thing!

Rork Kuick

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Doletzky took some of my biggest red oaks to mill (and did me favors). I asked him about my large white oaks, and if it made sense that they had grown slowly for 100 years, but then much quicker for the next 60. It was formerly his family's land. He said he select cut the white oak there in 1950, which made perfect sense (the 'little ones' were about 100 years old then). 60 years later he was swing a saw again there - not many can manage that. I would have gladly stood all day had he (and some others like him) been willing to talk that long.

Liz Neil

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

I believe ToddAustin is incorrect in identifying Mercedes Barcia's home as Orchard River Hills subdivision. I've lived here for 15 years and have never heard of Orchard River Hills -- I believe she is in Huron Farms. You may want to verify this rather than take it on an electronic "anonymous" source.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

Technically there are two subdivisions in the neighborhood behind Buschs - Huron Farms and Orchard River Hills. We lived in the neighborhood for over two years before realizing there were two different subs!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

Todd should know, he's the president of the HOA for Orchard River HIlls... I live in the same neighborhood as Mercedes and we are both definitely in the ORH subdivision.

John Counts

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Hi Liz Neil. We referred to the neighborhood where Wilson Street is as Orchard River Hills in past stories, which is why it was changed:


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

I own a private home inspection business and did a lot of new construction inspections when there was new residential construction. I still remember pointing out to my several clients in Huron Farms that the anchor straps that connect the framing structure to the foundation were not installed to the required manufacturer's installation requirements. I explained that in the old days, homes rested on the foundation, but the housing safety code was changed to protect the safety and health of building occupants. I stated that in the very unlikely event that a car ran off the road and hit the building, or if a tornado or wind shear hit the house, that the house could be shoved off the foundation and be totaled, where as if the structure was properly fastened to the foundation that the catastrophic result was MUCH LESS likely. Since the local code enforcement agency ignored requiring proper building standards, there was much more damage and heartache from the Dexter Tornado. Also, I pointed out to my clients, same at all the houses, that the roofing shingles were not properly installed to the roofing manufacturer's required specifications, meaning that they could blow off easier than they should. Even though properly installed inexpensive shingles may have blown off from 140MPH winds, I am sure that there would have been less roof damage if proper installation procedures had been followed. This was the responsibility of the builder, but also the responsibility of the Washtenaw County Building Department to make sure the homes were built properly and safely. If the county building inspectors had done their job, it would have greatly minimized structural and roof damage. (by the way, this is common all over, not just in Dexter.) We need to encourage our municipal building inspectors to take their responsibilities seriously.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Actually, the Dexter community has always been together. That's why they responded the way they did!

John Counts

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Well put, Doug!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

I was on North Territorial Rd when the twister touched down. I was on my way home traveling west. I saw debris in the sky and knew something was up. In a flash a giant oak had fallen across the road and I had to slam on the brakes. In my rear view mirror I saw pine trees uprooting out of the ground. My 5000lb Jeep Commander was actually being pushed sideways off the road. I was able to finally swing around and head back east on Territorial. That is when the hail started. I thought my windshield was going to explode into pieces! A few days later I managed to get back down North Territorial and was amazed that I was less than 100 yards from where the twister crossed the road. March 15th 2012 will always be in my mind. One has to respect mother nature!!!

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

You should read our article about the radio operator who basically tried to follow the path of the tornado in his car. Such an interesting story:


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

The day afterwards, I found a small tree (3" diameter, 6' long) completely stripped of leaves and almost all roots in the middle of my back 20 acre hayfield. All by itself. Severely bashed. And I live in Brighton. That's over 30 miles as the crow was trying to fly.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

John, the destroyed home you picture and which serves as the backdrop for the opening picture of Mercedes is in Orchard River Hills, not Huron Farms.

John Counts

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

Thanks for the heads up, ToddAustin. This has been corrected.

John Counts

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I talked to a lot of people in Dexter in the past two weeks, but it still feels like I didn't talk to nearly enough. As I said in the article, everyone had their own tornado story and every single one of them was compelling. What's your tornado story?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

I was out at my horse's farm on North Dancer when the rain hit. We got the horses in. My plan was to ride my horse indoors then, but she was so wet, I decided to get back home. I heard NO sirens. Driving down Jackson Rd., I decided to stop to pick up the items. The hail was pounding down. Employees in CVS said they did not hear a siren. I headed home, worried about damage to my truck. When I got to my street I saw it. It was massive and coming right toward me. I called my husband, whose office is in downtown Dexter, and told him to TAKE COVER NOW! I made it to my house, and headed down to the basement under the stairs. We heard the tornado roaring over us. Then silence. We looked up the stairs and saw a huge flash, as out electrical box was hit. Transformer after transformer blew up. I've been in tornadoes before. I grew up in Indiana, and lived for some time in Kansas. However, this twister was the scariest one I had ever seen. It was so close. Yet it missed my neighborhood. In the aftermath, everyone came outside, and walked around the corner to see if anyone needed help at the Mill. Most people had heard by then about the decimated areas in Dexter. Most people were asking aloud, where they could go to help. That's the kind of community Dexter is.

Jim Osborn

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

Great story. In it John Counts said, "Glass from broken windows is buried in the blades of yard grass because many insurance companies would not pay for a lawn vacuuming" How much does this cost for a typical homowner - why can't they pay for it on their own?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

Matt...we live in Orchard River sub and we have about 5 neighbors that have completely replaced their lawns. It wasn't hundreds of dollars..more like thousands and insurance will not cover it. We have paid for all tornado expenses either thru insurance or out of pocket . We are still finding glass and nails in our lawn and are considering replacing it completely, but it will be a huge expense. Just the clean up alone for days after that the volunteers did saved us a lot of time and money and we are very thankful. Just glad we didn't have as much damage as most of our neighbors and grateful no one was seriously hurt or killed.

Jim Osborn

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

I just asked a simple question, "How much does it cost to have one's lawn vacuumed. It certainly did not sound like something that would cost $15,000. perhaps a few hundred. Now I know. $15,000 would make me pause, and especially if I had many other expenses. Thanks Kellie for answering my question. $15,000 Wow! It is not something that one hears about everyday. That is why I asked.

Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

@Jim, from an article I wrote in the fall: Lawn replacements cost up to $15,000, and in many cases insurance doesn't cover the procedure. At least 28 homeowners have contacted the temporary Dexter Relief Fund for assistance on lawn replacements.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

This would be a great thing that they could spend the money raised on.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Jim, after the tornado, most families had many out-of-pocket costs to deal with that insurance didn't cover. Many folks are still haggling with insurance companies for payments. The lawn service companies that would guarantee their vacuuming services of lawns wanted thousands of dollars to clean a small lot. In most cases people had to remove the lawn and start from scratch.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Jim, it depends on the extent of the contamination. Some could clean by hand or get the vaccuming. Others needed something like deep dethatching to remove debris, likely costing several hundred dollars. Others had contamination so severe that the entire lawn needed to be removed and replaced, potentially costing thousands of dollars. Not everyone has the financial resources to do this. Many had significant costs not covered by insurance. In these situations, costs add up steadily and can end up eating a family's entire savings.

Matt Tierney

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

As someone whose home was directly impacted and suffered $40,000 in damage and lost half a dozen mature trees, let me assure you that we were out thousands of dollars very quickly before State Farm started trickling out money at a glacial pace—and only after having to battle for every penny. The number of uncovered expenses you think of as "not too much" quickly added up. I picked chunks of the car wash from a quarter mile away out of my yard for weeks, and I am sure there is still debris to found for years to come. Yeah, insurance paying for the nails and glass to be removed from my lawn before I have to pull it out of one of my daughters? I'd certainly appreciate that, because I still don't have the extra hundreds of dollars that would probably cost. If not for the tremendous generosity and hard work of dozens of local volunteers—most of whom I never met until they showed up in my yard with chainsaws—it would have costs many thousands more to cut up and remove all of the trees before a single thing was rebuilt. Insurance wouldn't pay for ANY of that.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

My children called me arguing over weather or not it was a funnel cloud. I asked what were the dogs doing? Nothing, then suddenly they went bezerk, I just screamed at them to get in the basement! Then called my sister's home down the road and said "GET IN THE BASEMENT NOW", my Brother InLaw could tell by my tone I wasn't fooling around. Thanks to cell phones we had that connection, what we did not know was the direction it was headed, as we headed home directly in its path via North Territorial. My husband was driving and couldn't see the debris field, I had a better vantage point watching, praying, and crying. We took a dirt road North to avoid a head on encounter with this beast. My children (young adults) now know, if you even THINK it may be a funnel cloud, go to the basement immediately. When we hear the new siren/alert systems that are now in place, its a haunting reminder of why we need those. I know longer worry if a storm comes in the night, how will we know? (A good Weather Radio maybe, but what if the power goes out?) The new sirens are so close to my home and so loud, you can be in the basement and it will wake you, its the blessing in all of this.

Matt Tierney

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

We purchased a weather radio that has a battery backup. Unless the broadcast tower was cut off somehow, we'd get the warning. That signal is the same one that triggers the siren warning system, I believe, so you'd get the warning if you were among the homes outside of the siren coverage.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

I was near Arborland as the storm approached. I remember the hail coming down in waves. It went on for about 45 minutes. I don't remember hail coming down for more than a minute or so ever before.