Long recovery ahead for some in path of deadly tornadoes in central US

A statue lays on the ground on Orchard Island in Russells Point, Ohio, on Saturday, March 16, 2024. Thursday night’s storms left trails of destruction across parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. An Ohio sheriff in what appeared to be the hardest hit area says it's a surprise more people weren't killed in the storms. (AP Photo/Patrick Orsagos)

A statue lays on the ground on Orchard Island in Russells Point, Ohio, on Saturday, March 16, 2024. Thursday night’s storms left trails of destruction across parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. An Ohio sheriff in what appeared to be the hardest hit area says it’s a surprise more people weren’t killed in the storms. (AP Photo/Patrick Orsagos)

LAKEVIEW, Ohio (AP) — Residents in a swath of the central U.S. hit by deadly tornadoes were cleaning up, assessing damage and helping neighbors on Saturday. But it will be a long recovery from the storms that ripped through parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas.

Thursday night’s storms claimed three lives in the Indian Lake area of Ohio’s Logan County, one of the hardest-hit regions, and about 40 people were injured and dozens of homes damaged in one Indiana community. Tornadoes were also reported in Illinois and Missouri.

Samantha Snipes, 33, said that when she first heard the tornado warning, she called her father who lives seven minutes away and told him to take cover. He said he was trying get into the closet in her childhood home and then the phone cut out, she told The Associated Press.

She and her husband attempted to drive down the main road to get to him but couldn’t and had to get through the back way after the tornado passed.

“It looked like out of a movie, like ‘Twister’” she said. “My dad’s garage was leveled. The back of his house is gone. Like everything’s gone.”

They climbed over everything screaming for him. When they found him, he wasn’t injured and he told them to stop crying, she said.

Her father, Joe Baker, had always told his children to hide in the closet if there was ever a tornado.

“We grew up here. Like this is our childhood home,” said Snipes who Saturday was throwing away things and figuring out what could be saved. “And you see it on the news. But you never imagine it’s going to happen to you.”

Steve Wills, a pastor who owns a vacation home down the road on Orchard Island, said Saturday he was bringing a family crew to finish cleaning up and cover a hole in the roof.

“We’re saddened for the families that lost people. There’s three deaths in our community. You know, that breaks our heart,” Wills said. “But it could have been so much more, so much more. Yeah, so I still have faith.”

The community has been really helpful, Snipes said.

The school superintendent was dropping off food, clothes and diapers on Friday. The night of the tornado, neighbors on her dad’s street were going house to house shutting off the gas, she said.

“Everybody on this road is safe. You know neighbors helping neighbors is what it’s been,” Snipes said.

AP U.S. News

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