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Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

'We're still in a whirlwind,' resident says a week after Dexter tornado hit

By Lisa Allmendinger

Read comprehensive coverage of the Dexter tornado here.

One week ago, time stood still for Bob Jazwinski.

He, his pregnant wife, Katie, and their two small children hid in a closet while a tornado turned their Dexter Township home into a “dollhouse,” exposing open walls.

Today, he admitted his head was “still in a whirlwind,” but was thankful for the quick response of the Dexter Area Fire Department.

“We’d still be in that closet if it weren't for the fire department. I don’t know how they got here that fast,” he said.

Both teachers, they said they’d rehearsed a tornado drill two days before they needed to implement those instructions to save themselves and their children.

“We're coaches, we were cool and calm,” he said.

Katie is a teacher at Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter.

But a week later, Bob said it’s really starting to sink it. “A tornado went past my wife and kids,” he said. "I'm learning not to say no to any help that he’s offered. It's hard as the man of the house."

The couple was grateful to a group out of Saline called Pour-Out, Inc, that travels the world helping at disaster sites. He said they’d been clearing the family’s property since Friday. “If they weren’t here, I don’t know what we’d do,” he said.

A week after an EF-3 tornado left a path of destruction through the Dexter area, residents still are emptying contents of their homes, working with insurance and construction companies, while coming to terms with what happened.


The Dexter Car Care Center on Second Street in Dexter sustained heavy damage when the tornado struck last week.

Angela J. Cesere |

Carol Burns, whose house was moved 3 inches off its foundation on Central Street, said, "I'm still shock and exhausted, but going on with life.”

“We got our stuff out and have moved about a mile away,” she said, adding that she feels very fortunate that no one was hurt.

Allen Hale, one of the owners of the car wash and laundromat on Second Street that was severely damaged, said “I’ll never forget the day and how everyone came together.”

He said he was at home when he saw on TV that his business had been badly damaged. “I was in total shock when I walked up,” he said.

Since then, “the people of Dexter have been fantastic. They've looked out for us,” he said, and “We hope to be up and running as soon as possible.”

Janet McDole, a trained Skywarn Spotter and an admitted weather geek, said that her severe weather training worked perfectly when a tornado ripped through her Carriage Hills neighborhood in Dexter Township.

A week after her home was twisted off its foundation, she’s still thankful that everything went the way it was supposed to.

By herself when the tornado hit, she headed into a closet in a lower level below a stairway, and her dog was safely closed in another room.

Living at a hotel outside her home, her home’s contents are slowly being moved out and most of the yard debris is gone or stacked in piles.

McDole says they lost about 40 very large trees. She's not living in her home now but, “I’m here and so is my husband,”

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



Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

Can I provide some clarification on the subdivision near York, Noble, Wilson. Huron Farms area is actually two seperate subdivisions. Huron Farms and Orchard River Hills. In my conversation with someone at work it seemed that some people living in Huron Farms or that worked for Norfolk were bothered that the section that was built by a different builder - ( that went bankrupt ) was being confused with the actual Huron Farms - built by Norfolk Builders. Petty , I think yes...considering the majority of the damage was on York, Oliver, Wilson which is under the Orchard River Hills HOA and considering people have lost their homes and everything in them......Tornadoes have no special preference for a particular home builder!

Rork Kuick

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Thankyou fire, police, Salvation Army, Red Cross, volunteers, local farmers, donators, and others. I'd write at length about some of them, but it would take a book. Maybe we should make that book together. I've met so many beautiful people. Quite a few volunteers have been through tornadoes or hurricanes themselves, or have other stories, better than my own. Hope you did a story about "The Cedars". Thanks again to all.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

Thanks for the follow-up. It's just a miracle that no one was seriously injured or killed in the tornado. I'm sure everyone involved has had their lives turned upside down, however, and I shudder to think of having to deal with the insurance issues. AA dot com might do an article later on about how these amazing folks end up dealing with the insurance companies and the outcome. It might provide information to others about the kinds of coverages that are needed in this kind of situation and what to look for when purchasing homeowners insurance.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Great idea! I'm thinking about our 6 maples, 4 oaks and numerous other trees on our property. I guess I need to call my insurance agent and get busy taking pictures and an inventory.

Barbara Read

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 3:10 a.m., thanks for sharing pictures and stories from other areas of Dexter hit by the tornado.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

Thanks for the pictures of Carriage Hills and Dexter-Pinkney. That is amazing that they were able to escape the tornado in the closet while everything was being torn apart. Bless them.