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Cleanup heats up; Celina rebounding from tornado

CELINA, Oh. (WPTA21) – 48 hours after a strong tornado hit the northwest Ohio community, leaders are taking steps to get the city back on its feet.

A clean-up is firing up, but for some homeowners, it’s not only a physical, but an emotional task.

When Laurie Hendricks walks up to where her front door used to be, she’s carried back to the chaos of Monday night.

An EF-3 tornado badly damaged or destroyed more than 40 homes inside the city limits.

Hendricks’ home was one of them.

Tornado sirens blared, but she was inclined to ignore the warning, until her dad called and convinced her to go to the basement.

Minutes later, when the winds and crashing sounds quieted…

“I looked up and I could see outside, so I knew the roof was not there anymore,” Hendricks said.

She’s thrilled to be alive, but wonders how hard it will be to put this ordeal fully behind her.

“Early that morning, I was out doing stuff, going into my house like normal, and by the end of the night, I don’t have a house anymore,” she said.

While the emotional rebound is a challenge, the physical clean-up is making real progress.

City crews are focusing on the hardest hit neighborhoods, loading limbs, damaged furniture and other debris, to be hauled away.

“They had dump trucks in, right away, clearing that stuff out with skid loaders and everything, it was amazing., said Sara Baumstark, whose property sustained damage in the storm.

Mayor Jeff Hazel and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine have signed state disaster declarations to try and tap into state emergency funds for Celina.

“We are waiting to see if we meet the threshold for a federal or national disaster area, at which point we go to the desk of the President to sign. At the forefront of our minds, how do we get these people’s lives back to normal as quickly as possible,” Mayor Hazel said.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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