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everything we own has been blown'
|Celina native loses home due to tornado
By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
TIFFIN - A last minute decision to stop for dinner after shopping
Sunday afternoon probably saved the lives of Celina native Nancy (Lochtefeld) Harvey, her
husband Chris and their 2-year-old daughter, Megan.
The Harveys' five-bedroom home was one of four reduced to rubble by one
of several tornadoes that roared through northwest Ohio last weekend.
Standing in the debris that was the living room, Chris Harvey, a Van
Wert native, said it was "flukey" they weren't at home.
"Our daughter Megan saw a Cracker Barrel restaurant and started
chanting to stop and eat. So we decided at the last minute to stop," he told The
Daily Standard on Tuesday morning amid the rubble that just days ago was his living room.
Untouched by the storm, the houses across the street are pristine, the
manicured lawns basking in the morning sun giving the whole scene a Dali-esque appearance.
The Harveys' home was a direct hit in the two-house-wide swath the
tornado cut as it bounced through the subdivision, taking a roof off here and there en
route to ground level where it destroyed all in its path.
"Almost everything we own has been blown all over, in the trees in
back and in fields hundreds of yards away," said Nancy Harvey, who now serves as
director of a Seneca County government agency, adding the outpouring of complete strangers
has been both comforting and disheartening.
As the couple surveyed the damage Monday morning, strangers walked
through the debris picking up items here and there, video taping each other.
"It's offensive to have people holding up your underwear out in
the yard, laughing and taking pictures," Nancy Harvey said. "I asked them to
leave our property, which actually seemed to irritate them."
The gawkers, including a bus- load from a local retirement center, so
clogged the street that the workmen and cleanup crews couldn't get into the subdivision,
But, others came to help and worked long into the night by flashlight.
"About 20 or so high school kids showed up and cleaned out the
back fence row carefully putting our stuff in a neat row in the yard," said Chris
Harvey, a mental health therapist, parting drywall from the rain soaked living room carpet
with his boot.
Strewn through the fence row was currency, part of Nancy Harvey's
cashed paycheck, which had been in her day planner on the kitchen counter.
"The kids brought the money to me as they found it. These are 16-
and 17-year olds returning 50s and 100s. So, don't believe it when you hear teen-agers are
going to the dogs," she added.
However, response from the couple's insurance company has been another
"Our insurance adjuster just came today, which puts us behind the
eight ball for rebuilding and cleanup. Everyone else in the subdivision had adjusters here
immediately," she said.
She then added she had no idea she would be required by the insurance
company to itemize all the family's lost possessions.
"It's just overwhelming. I don't know how many pieces of
silverware we had. Plus they're asking for receipts. I can't believe it. Our whole house
was blown away. We still can't find the garage. No, we have no receipts," she said in
They also have no family photos or keepsakes, but next door to the
Harveys, their teen-ager neighbor, whose mother died a couple years ago, was able to save
her photographs from the tornado.
Adam Gibson, 15, was the only person at home in any of the houses
destroyed in the Tiffin subdivision.
"We have a weather monitor on our computer and I heard it go off
with a severe storm warning. I got up and looked, but ignored it like people do. Then a
tornado watch came on which I also ignored," Gibson told The Daily Standard.
When the tornado warning was sounded he took action. Gibson collected
the box of his mom's photographs, his dog Odie, and a pillow and put them in an interior
He called his grandma to warn her, told her he loved her and and then
burrowed in under the pillow beside the bathtub.
"It really sounded like a train going by and I felt it hit the
house. When part of the ceiling fell on me I was a little panicky," Gibson recalled.
When he took the pillow off his head, he saw the roof of the house was
gone and he looked up into the dark sky.
"When I opened the bathroom door, the living room where I had just
been watching television was gone, blown away - even the carpet was ripped off the
floor," he said.
Looking over to the Harveys' house, he said he saw the big,
five-bedroom home was almost completely destroyed.
"Some volunteer firefighters just happened to have been visiting
in the neighborhood and I saw them running into the Harveys' yard to find out if anyone
was home. I yelled for help, and they came over for me," said the slender,
dark-haired teen who went on to a neighbor's as the rescue workers went back in for his
Although there's no way to prepare emotionally for the devastation of a
tornado, Gibson said one thing he's learned is to have necessary survival items all in one
place. And, know where the things are that really matter to you.
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