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Posted on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

Sense of community shines in Dexter: 'I have never seen neighbors look out for each other this way'

By Lisa Allmendinger


Contents are emptied from a home in Huron Farms in Dexter Monday.

Lisa Allmendinger | Ann

Read comprehensive coverage here.

Raymond Eddy is a veteran of weather-related disasters. As executive vice president of Statewide Disaster Restoration out of Southfield, he’s seen the aftermath and worked with homeowners following devastating hurricanes most recently in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Ala.

Eddy has flown across the country to assist on the scenes of 13 major hurricanes and other natural disasters, but he said, “In my 22 years in this business, I have never seen neighbors looking out for each other the way they have here and a community come together the way the Dexter community has.”


Raymond Eddy and Paul Clarke of Statewide Disaster Restoration in front of a home they are working on in Huron Farms.

Lisa Allmendinger | Ann

He said his company is performing 31 emergency services for homeowners, which include the “initial triage” of other homes, repairing things like roofs and water damage and 15 to 16 “permanent repairs,” that involve major structural damage to homes that resemble “doll houses” where entire sections have been ripped away by the winds.

“They lit this whole place up like a baseball stadium,” Dexter Area Fire Department Chief Loren Yates said of the 10 generator-powered spotlights that Statewide Restoration brought into the Huron Farms neighborhood, which are used at night as a security precaution against possible looters.

But what other workmen said was important to them were the six portable toilets that were stationed in the subdivision for general use.

“And the hand sanitizer is always full in them,” one workman said. For Lin and Barry Schaye, who bought a home on Huron Street in Dexter in May, it was “the efficiency of the Village of Dexter,” that most impressed them.

house_on_Huron Street_Dexter.JPG

This home on Huron Driver lost its porch and sustained heavy damage.

Lisa Allmendinger |

Lin Schaye said she and her husband were in Chicago, entertaining friends for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner when they got the news that the EF-3 tornado that had gone through Dexter. When they arrived at their property Saturday, neighbors and construction crews were just finishing the cleanup of the trees that had littered their property.

She said they had a couple of broken windows and a little roof damage but, “We were really lucky.”

That's unlike her neighbor across the street, whose home was “torqued” in the storm, the porch was destroyed and she said it’s possible the home will need to be completely rebuilt.

Shelley Grissom, wife of firefighter Mike Grissom, rode out the storm in the basement of their home on Dexter-Pinckney Road in a pup tent with their three children. Meanwhile, her husband was doing his job, helping others in the Dexter community.

“It was an hour to an hour and a half before I knew if my family and my home was safe,” Mike Grissom said.

Shelley Grissom said her ears started popping as the sounds of the tornado got louder and louder, so she took cover and began praying.

“The louder it got, the louder I prayed,” she said. “I kept saying, ‘Jesus help us. Jesus save us. Jesus keep my husband safe and us safe, and then I prayed for the neighbors.”


Assessing the damage from the roof of a home in Huron Farms.

Lisa Allmendinger |

Once the storm had passed, she and the children couldn’t get out of their home. “We had to climb over the front railing to get out,” because trees had fallen all around the house blocking the doors.

In the Carriage Hills subdivision, Jen Boyce and her children were eating dinner and she heard the sirens going off on Thursday. “It started looking gloomy outside. Then I saw our trampoline take off across the front yard.”

Then she heard a whistling sound so she headed to the basement with her three children and their dog, Bailey. Her husband, Dexter firefighter Ben Boyce, was on his way home from work. When he was finally able to get through, he assessed the damage to their home and then headed to the firehouse.

His family went to stay at a relative’s home away from the tornado-ravaged area where there was electricity.

“We were lucky that nothing fell on the house,” she said.

The Boyce’s home did have some minor roof damage and “lots and lots of trees down. The children’s play structure was demolished,” she said. But all of them, including the family dog, were safe.

Monday afternoon in downtown Dexter, people were going in and out of the Red Cross Station at Creekside Elementary School where all kinds of items were being dropped off to help the victims of the tornado. One volunteer, Dexter resident John Hansen, was taking winter clothes to another location.

“You’re heard of Two Men and a Truck, we’ll I’m One Man and a Truck,” he said. “I have a truck and I’m good at taking orders.”

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.


A tarp caught in the trees in the Carriage Hills subdivision in Dexter Township.

Lisa Allmendinger |



Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

@Mark: Re: "If you think they don't need trees planted, you haven't been out there." I never said that major replanting will not be necessary -- I got a call for help the other day from a friend who lost a 4'-dia. oak tree, which you simply cannot replace (he was lucky that his house was only slightly damaged). And I am well aware of the extent of the damage/loss. I was responding to the snarky comment implying that other (less John Wayne? Less Marlboro Man?... Who knows?) communities would sit "on thier (sic) tails waiting for a hand out ... And when I said, "Sure, there are plenty of people in Dexter asking for a handout, asking who will buy them new trees, etc. That's OK, too," I was referring to the Mar. 18 article (Dexter Township Board approves $200,000 for tornado clean-up effort). Here are a couple of quotes from it: "Several residents also expressed anger about the number of trees they'd lost, asking if there was township money available to replace them." "One resident said, "Our homes have 20-30 percent less value than they did two days ago." He asked if township officials would reassess their properties and reduce their taxes." There are an awful lot of people out there who find it fashionable to gripe about the "nanny state." But they are often among the first to stick out their hands (NTTAWWT) when disaster strikes. Possibly, this is because those folks are so used to complaining about government that they don't give it a second thought.

Amy Reineri

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

I grew up in Dexter. It is a very close-knit town. It has changed from a small farming town to include a bedroom town for folks working in Ann Arbor, but when I lived there, the band uniforms were very old and the band was doing great in competitions except the uniforms looked like something from thrift. New ones were really expensive, but the town voted to add to their property taxes for a bit to buy those uniforms for the band. There is a mix of old and new residents now, but the feeling of being in what is basically an extended family is still very much part of the place. I am sure other locations are as close-knit - maybe not as Mr. Eddy saw them, but it is there. Communities care. Your neighbors care.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Regarding the earlier comment that people are asking for new trees, I think re-planting trees is a great use for some of the disaster money. Insurance doesn't cover it, Dexter is supposed to be a "tree city" and arbor day is coming up. Carriage Hills and the Dexter-Pinckney Rd. area are decimated. If you think they don't need trees planted, you haven't been out there. Trees are good for the whole Dexter community--no matter whose yard they sit in. No, I don't live in Carriage Hills or have a tree disaster in my yard. I just think it would help get the good feelings back for everyone.

J. Zarman

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

I have experienced the great sense of community in Dexter. There is wonderful dedication to each other and to the well-being of neighbors in Ann Arbor, in Ypsilanti, in Saline. But there is a little something special with that in Dexter.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

Dexter is doing a good job, and the people are pulling together -- just like 99% of all communities in times like these. That's great. And Mr. Eddy has been doing this for a long time -- and knows what to say. That's great, too. He's hardly going to criticize those folks at a time they could use being pumped up. So let's not blow it out of proportion, and come to socio-political conclusions that just aren't supported by facts. We finally have the proof we never needed that the folks of Dexter can dig deep when they need to, just like the residents of any trailer park in Tennessee. This is what people do in times like these. Sure, there are plenty of people in Dexter asking for a handout, asking who will buy them new trees, etc. That's OK, too. The important thing is to look at the big picture, and Dexter is doing a good job, as we might expect. Keep it up!


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

God Bless the people of Dexter. That's the way it should be all across AMERICA.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 11:33 a.m.

The difference between " community " and the nanny state....friends , family , strangers and community pulling together for a cause , not sitting on thier tails waiting for a hand out ...

Audion Man

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Why is it that people have to bring their politics into *every* *single* thread.


Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 10:40 a.m.

it's all about coming together and helping one another. My heart hurts for the damage done to the folks in Dexter, but it brings a good deal of happiness to see everyone coming together. Dexter will rebuild and be even better.

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

Towns of the size and characteristics of Dexter just attract the kind of people that have it in their DNA to be responsible and elect responsible public officials who make certain that they have the right warning systems, to get in their basements when they hear the warnings, and afterwards pitch in and do everything for themselves that they can. When something like this hits a tight knit community, they only become closer. I'll bet Dexter will be an even nicer place to live after this storm and nicer ever before the houses are repaired and re-built. Dexter, you are good to watch.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

"Dexter..... the kind of people that have it in their DNA to be responsible and .... have the right warning systems..." The warning system is a countywide initiative i believe.

Ann English

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

Raymond Eddy hasn't seen a community come together like this in Tennessee? If I lived in Tennessee and a tornado at least as strong as this one went through a nearby area on a path 5 miles long, and the people didn't react as well as Dexter's, I'd have a rude awakening. Or if I lived in Logansport, Indiana, and such an orderly response did NOT take place there, I'd be disappointed. Oh well, with a job like Raymond Eddy's, you can't create expectations of the local residents you're visiting.