Tornado committee seeks donations for tributeWritten by Brandi Barhite | Associate Editor | email@example.com
Editor’s note: Toledo Free Press will follow the Blank family of Millbury for one year as they rebuild their lives after a June 5 tornado destroyed their Main Street home.
Lake Township police officer Joe Musil wishes he could forget the devastation he heard and saw after the June 5 tornado: Gerald Lathrop saying fiancée Bailey Bowman had been killed, freeing the injured Beverly Hicks from her basement and finding out family friend Ted Kranz had died.
But the Millbury resident knows how important it is to remember.
“I knew quite a few of the people who were lost. We never want to forget. We want to remember how it brought our community closer together,” Musil said. “We never thought we would see levels of devastation like this. We saw the best part of people come together.”
For this reason Musil is part of the tornado anniversary committee, which is hosting an event themed “Triumph over Tragedy” on June 4.
The event will be part celebration of life, part memorial. The 4 p.m. block party with food, alcohol and music will take place on Main Street in Millbury, just south of Ayers Road to Cherry Street, the neighborhood that bore the brunt of the tornado. At midnight — the one-year anniversary of the tornado — several pastors will lead a moment of silence for the seven people who died from injuries sustained in the storm.
“We aren’t celebrating the tornado,” said Millbury Mayor Michael Timmons. “I think it is a good idea to celebrate all the people coming together. People know their neighbors three or four doors down when they might not have before.”
Timmons is on the tornado anniversary committee, which is being led in part by Ed and Julie Blank. The Blanks lost their Main Street home the night of the tornado, as did several other neighbors. Three of the four members of the Walters family lost their lives and a 5K run/walk will be hosted in their honor on the morning of the block party.
However, the evening event cannot take place without the help of others. The committee is searching for a primary sponsor or several sponsors, as well as bands to perform throughout the evening. The committee also needs food vendors, in addition to those who want to set up arts and crafts booths within the block.
Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer said he appreciates the committee’s desire to give back. Part of the profit from that day’s sale of food and alcohol will be given to the fire and police departments to cover costs that went beyond what the insurance paid.
“The community is on the heal,” he said. “It is going to be a new normal. In the past year, a lot of accomplishments have been made and we have done that as a community. I think it is more than appropriate to come together in a more positive manner.”
Hummer said the administration building, which was destroyed by the tornado, will be open by June 5 — another reason to celebrate.
Musil rushed to the administration building the night of the tornado. He was working off-duty at a wedding when he heard the screams for help from Lake Township dispatchers. When he got there, Lathrop told him what had happened. Lathrop and Bowman were running toward the building for safety when the tornado hit and Bowman was killed. Musil’s daughter was friends with Bowman.
“We really have remained together and strong in the past year,” Hummer said. “Not forgetting those folks who can never be replaced is important.”
Triumph over Tragedy
4 p.m. June 4
Main Street, Millbury
To become a sponsor, perform, donate or set up a booth, contact Ed Blank at (419) 508-9693 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.