Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Crawford County starts tornado recovery effort

May 7, 2003

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— Mary Sayre spent Tuesday helping relatives salvage what they could from the rubble that once was home. She did it for a simple reason.

"Wouldn't you? I would hope they would help if it was me," she said. "With things like this, you've got to pull together."

The thing, in this case, was a Sunday tornado that ripped through this Crawford County community of 300, destroying about 80 percent of the homes, including the one Tim and Terri Sayre rented for 14 years.

The tornado picked up the wood-frame house and deposited most of it in a heap across the street.

Items as small as a child's doll and as large as a pickup truck were scattered about. Clothing and slipcovers dangled from tree branches.

Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton said volunteers were among the first to show up Monday.

"We have people on standby lists. We could bring in five times the people," Horton said at the emergency command center.

"The amount of people offering help is overwhelming," Horton said. "This is the type of community we live in," he said.

Claims adjusters from insurance companies combed the community, asking directions. Street signs were blown down.

One adjuster, Lisa Kissane, was busy surveying the damage and talking to policyholders.

"We don't want to just pay people and walk away," she said. "They need people through the whole process and it's going to be a long haul."

State Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger visited the community Tuesday to see the extent of damage. She planned to meet later in the day with executives of the major insurance companies.

She said her role was to make sure the insurance companies deliver.

"I'm not anticipating any problems. The response has been very positive," she said.

Utility crews continued working to restore power, stringing power lines and replacing broken poles. Officials hope to have power restored in a couple of days.

Dale Coomes, general manager of Heartland Rural Electric Co-Op in Girard, came by to see if the co-op could provide any assistance.

"It's helping your neighbor. That's what you want to do," he said. "It's the Midwest mentality -- help your neighbor."

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