Tornado destroys house

Limb by limb and house by house, residents in Shiawassee County are trying to put their lives back together after two tornadoes ripped through the area on March 14.

“Unfortunately, there’s going to be a new normal,” said Trent Atkins, with Shiawassee County Emergency Management.

Atkins said dozens of volunteers made their way to Vernon to help clean up, along with the state defense force, Rubicon and the Salvation Army.

“We are assessing all the needs. We’re doing everything we can do to provide opportunities to be able to help them to recover,” Atkins said.

Steven Grigsby, with the state defense force, and his crew are helping to clean up the massive amount of debris left behind.

Grigsby said there are about 60 more homes they will need to get to.

“This is what we signed up for, giving back to the community. We are here to serve and that’s what we’re doing,” Grigsby said.

Bill Roberts is a volunteer with the Salvation Army. He said he is cooking up hot meals for the big hearts who are pitching in.

“They’re working long days and if they don’t have to stop and go out to MacDonald’s to get something to eat, this just makes their job that much easier,” Roberts said.

Representatives from the Shiawassee Sheriff’s Office said they should be clearing brush and debris for the next week, but some people might not have their homes back for six months to a year.

In all, 20 homes were destroyed by the tornado, Atkins said. Six of those homeowners did not have insurance.

But Atkins said the community is trying to look on the bright side.

“We are so fortunate that no one was injured, or no one died during this event. If this would’ve been a more populated area, I think the devastation would’ve been much worse,” Atkins said.

The United Way has set up a fund to support victims of the tornadoes in Genesee and Shiawassee County.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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