Woman recalls `the scariest night of my life’

Kelly J. Kaczala

        June 5 2010 is a date that Sue LaVoy will never forget. That’s when a tornado leveled her home on Neill Avenue in Moline, located next to a field across from the Main Street Church. She and then husband Wayne walked away with just the clothes on their backs. 
        There was nothing that Saturday night that would indicate there was a raging tornado heading towards Moline. In fact, it had been quiet.
        All that changed by 10:45 p.m. That’s when one of her sons, who lived in Maumee, sent her a text about a tornado warning that had been issued to her area by the National Weather Service.
        “We had been watching a movie, and we had our air conditioner on. It was so blazing hot that day. We were making smoothies. When we got his text, we turned on the TV, and there it was,” she said.
        Wayne started taking candles, blankets and water down to the basement,” she recalled for The Press last week.
        “We kept watching TV and going outside. There was no wind. It was very still. It was hot, humid and very sticky. There was a heaviness in the air. By the time the tornado hit, we had just gotten down the steps of the basement. It happened so quickly. It was a shock,” she said.
        She described the roar of the tornado as it approached her house as “deafening.”
        “We huddled in the basement by the furnace. I looked out the basement window. I could see blue and green flashes of light and I knew it was going to be real bad. I was saying “The Lord’s Prayer.” We heard everything crashing above us. Then all of a sudden, we smelled gas. Hot water was pouring down onto our shoulders. The pipes had burst. It was the scariest night of my life,” she said.
        Wayne went up the basement steps to check the damage. “He came down and said, `It’s bad, Sue. The whole house is gone.’ The only thing that was still standing was our deck and a toilet my husband had just installed and bolted to the subfloor. We only had the clothes on our back,” she said.
War zone
        Eventually, they walked outside through several downed tree branches strewn across the landscape.
        “It was like a war zone,” she said. “We were just in shock. Our house was leveled.”
        Debris from their neighbor’s house was scattered across their yard.
        “Our cars were totaled. My car that was parked in the driveway was turned absolutely around. Wayne’s vehicle rolled over several times into the field next to our house. There was debris everywhere. We had to be very careful where we walked because the electrical wires at the time were attached to the house. Now they’re underground. Everybody just came out of their houses and were checking on everybody. My husband had a deep gash to his leg as he made his way out of the basement.”
        LaVoy was reluctant to leave their property.
        “I didn’t want to leave. There was another round of storms coming. My son made it out here and he was begging for me to leave.” By 1 a.m., they headed to her brother-in-law’s house in Waterville.
        “We didn’t sleep at all. By 6 a.m. we were back in Moline. My neighbors across the street said there were looters on our property already and they had run them off.”
        The twister carried away most of their belongings. Some items were found. Some were never seen again.
        “I wish I had taken my purse and my phone charger,” she said.
        Her checkbook was found four miles from her house. Her couch ended up in the parking lot of the Main Street Church.
        The garage door was never found. And some of her jewelry was missing.
        “I never did find all of my jewelry. I had so much good jewelry that my dad made me. He did that for a hobby,” she said.
        She and Wayne had decided to rebuild their house at the same location.
        “The foundation was fine. It took about 10 months to do it,” she said.
        They added on a master suite. And, of course, they made sure to include a sturdy basement.
        “That basement saved our lives,” she said. She also credited Wayne for his quick actions that night.
        “He saved our lives, too. If he hadn’t said, `Get down to the basement, now,’ we wouldn’t be here today.”
        She takes severe weather forecasts very seriously now, she said. She was anxious last Tuesday, when a storm that produced hail swept into town.
        “It was very scary for me. It was hailing out here in Moline. The wind blew a lot. Large tree branches and flag poles came down. My PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) just kicked in. I will never be the same.”
        Still, she never thought twice about rebuilding her home in the same place after the twister hit 10 years ago.
        “Everyone asked me, `Why did you build your home in tornado alley?’ She said she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
        “I love the neighborhood. Everyone in Moline and Millbury just pitched in, helped each other out when the tornado came through. I love Lake Township. I love Moline. I’ve been here since 1991. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”


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