Images still vivid for Millbury official

Larry Limpf

Images of the path of destruction wrought by the tornado are still vivid in Keith Nusbaum’s mind.
He was the Millbury street commissioner when it hit and Main Street resembled a war zone.
“We were out at Sand Beach when I heard the report and I headed for Millbury. It took me an hour and a half to get here,” he said. “Williston Road was full of all kinds of farm equipment. I had to go to Northwood to get back down to Ayers Road. The guys got me on a four-wheeler to get to the garage to get the backhoe out. Everything was a mess. I didn’t know where to start and I didn’t know where to stop. I had a flat tire on the backhoe about a half hour after we got started because there was so much junk on Main.”
He credits Mike Bell, then mayor of Toledo, for providing city equipment to help clear the street.
“He saved our butts,” Nusbaum said. “He talked to Michael Timmons, our mayor, and brought out three or four bulldozers, end loaders and dump trucks. There were roof joists lying around and other debris and the city’s equipment could handle it. We pushed everything up to the street about two or three days later and they hauled everything out for us. He said if you guys get reimbursed you can pay us, if you don’t, forget about it. We never got any money from the federal government.”
The damage was breath-taking in scope, he remembers.
“It was unbelievable. We had campers in ditches, in trees, tops of boats were everywhere. It seemed like all of the cars on the west side of Main Street went over to the east side of Main Street. Crane Creek was so full of stuff. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ll bet it took three years before everything got back to the way it was before,” Nusbaum said. “People came from all over to volunteer. Trees, some as large as three feet in diameter, were hauled to Hirzel Farms facility in Pemberville.”
With so much debris covering yards, fields and walkways, cuts and scratches were common. The Wood County Health Department set up a station at the fire hall to administer tetanus shots.
“I don’t want to see one of those again,” Nusbaum said of the tornado.
As if the property damage wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, Nusbaum was working in the area when the body of 4-year-old Hayden Walters was found. The boy’s mother, Mary, was also killed and his father, Ryan, later died of injuries. Only their daughter Madison, then eight, survived.


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