Tornado cleanup begins on farmsteads
GRAYMONT – It only took a matter of seconds to destroy a lifetime of work on a handful of Livingston County farmsteads Wednesday night.
A tornado, which began three miles north of Graymont and made its way to Pontiac, resulted in major damage to sheds, grain bins, trees and even homes in the storm’s destructive path.
“It happened fast,” recalled Mary Leach of rural Graymont. “Denny was watching TV and I was actually in bed already. I got a call from my son and he said, ‘Mom I think there’s a storm close to our house.’”
As Leach was rushing to her basement, her home’s front window blew out and everything was over in less than a minute. She considers Livingston County a “great community” as many friends and family members were pitching in with the cleanup effort.
“Everything just swirled I think,” Leach added.
Nathan Bailey, who lives nearby, agreed that the storm moved very quick as it blew in windows. His family headed for the lower level after a cell phone alert was received.
“We’ve got a lot of trees down and our shed is torn apart. We’ve got family out here helping,” Bailey said as the hum of chainsaws filled the air.
Bailey took his horse to a nearby farm and his chickens were still in the coop the following morning. Down the road a few miles, battered grain bins were strung across a soybean field while nearby corn was flattened.
Fortunately, there were few injuries involved with the storm and most have been taking care of the damage on their own at this point, according to Livingston County ESDA Director Chuck Schoop.
“We did have a lot of phone calls from the state IEMA for any assistance we needed and the Red Cross and Salvation Army were also volunteering their assistance,” Schoop explained.
After damaging the farms primarily in Rooks Creek Township, the tornado impacted businesses on the west side of Pontiac and a trailer park on the city’s south side. The Shell and BP gas stations suffered extensive damage and windows were knocked out of Heller Motors. Two people were seriously injured after their mobile home overturned at the Sterling Estates. Also, one pedestrian was reportedly struck by debris while a semi driver was injured after his truck rolled. None of the injuries were life threatening.