Volunteers back in Dexter to continue tornado cleanup efforts
Rick and Barb Fike of Dexter Township took their privacy for granted back when their house was surrounded by hundreds of trees. That all changed on March 15, when a tornado made its way down Dexter-Pinckney Road where the Fikes live. They lost more than a hundred trees.
"People didn't know we lived in here before," said Rick Fike, who says that among the losses were 55 mature spruce trees.
"I was in the laundry room closet when the tornado hit, and all I could hear was the sound of a freight train," said Barb Fike.
The Fikes' house received no damage, but it's now in plain view and has been visited daily by dozens of volunteers. Today is no exception as neighbors, U-M students, and members of Hands of Light in Action descended on the property.
"It's our way of giving back," said Dailyn Foster, a U-M sophomore and member of Merit, a community service group at the University of Michigan.
"A few of our members are from Dexter, and we wanted to do something for them," said Emphani Aldridge, also a U-M sophomore and member of Merit. "I've never seen a tree turned on its side like this with the roots showing."
Amid the burning wood, volunteer Doug Smith of Ann Arbor was wielding his chainsaw.
"I was here last Saturday and can see a big difference in the number of trees that have been cleaned up in a week," said Smith. "Helping these people clean up this mess gives me something to do."
Neighbor Dennis Linder had emotional ties to the lost trees.
"I lost more than a hundred trees, many of which I planted," he said. "I'm sad," he added as he set a pile of tree debris on fire.
Linder and the FIkes were touched by the huge number of volunteers that have come out to help since the tornado struck. This afternoon volunteers are coming from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Pinckney, the U-M rowing club, the Dexter High School lacrosse team, and the Boy Scouts.
"What an amazing community this is," said Rick Fike. "We wouldn't have lived long enough to do this ourselves, in part, because the cleanup would have killed us."
Meanwhile, in the Village of Dexter today, T-shirts benefiting the Dexter Area Fire Department went on sale and sold out in just a few hours. 500 shirts were printed with the words "Dear Tornado, Don't Mess with the Dreadnaughts. -Dexter." Those are the same words that appear on the billboard on Dexter-Ann Arbor Road billboard located on the south side of the road when entering the village from the east.
"I had a feeling the shirts would go quickly," said Tracy Klein-Lambert, owner of Fancy Stitch, who printed the shirts with help from Boullion Sales, which sponsored the billboard.
The shirts sell for a minimum $10 donation, and Klein-Lambert promises that more are being printed.