Storming Back: Blanks’ basement brings back memoriesWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: Toledo Free Press will follow the Blank family of Millbury for the next year as they rebuild their lives after a June 5 tornado destroyed their Main Street home.
The Blanks’ new house was built from the ground up, but old memories are hard to tear down.
The night the tornado destroyed their home, the Blanks sought refuge in the basement, the same basement that is now part of their new house.
“I just know this is the spot that we all huddled in,” said Julie Blank as she gave a tour of the house, including the remodeled basement. “So this is a little tough thinking about.”
Julie, along with husband, Ed, and their son, Casey, were among the people in the basement that fateful June 5 night. Ed’s son, Eddie and his wife, Michelle, and their son, Noah, also came that night because they don’t have a basement. Casey’s friend, Mark Greenlese, was spending the night and was in the basement, too.
Julie remembers being in that spot near the stairs. After the tornado hit, which Ed described as “the sound of a locomotive, but no horns and whistles,” he was able to get up the stairs — and saw nothing.
“Just picture, me coming up the steps here and only being able to make it halfway and then when I cleared everything out of the way, just picture my head barely above the flooring here and looking at the sky and looking next door and seeing their house destroyed and looking that way and everything was gone,” he said.
What was left was rubble. Among the rubble were end tables that were once in the family room. The family found the tables and decided to use them in the basement.
“They were made from a lady down in Fostoria. We bought them at a craft store,” Julie said of tables that she never thought would mean so much.
The other furniture in the basement is new from the Oregon condo they stayed in while their house was rebuilt.
The TV that was in the basement at the time of the tornado also survived. It is back in the basement, and surprisingly, it still works, Julie said.
Two of the more notable differences in the basement are the ceiling and lack of Buckeye memorabilia. The ceiling is no longer a drop ceiling because the Blanks decided to spray-paint the ceiling so the pipes and everything would be exposed. They got the idea from the Parade of Homes.
Ed said that the basement had been decorated with Buckeye photos and signs with the walls painted scarlet and gray.
The basement is where Ed plays Texas hold ’em with 20 of his friends the day after Thanksgiving.
Now, he has his upstairs “man cave,” too, but that bonus room is mostly used for Casey to play Xbox and watch movies with friends. The basement is nice, but it will never be the same.
“I might get some stuff and hang it up, but nothing like it was before,” Ed said.