True Blue Farms recovers from twister, slowly but surely

GRAND JUNCTION, Mich. -- Nearly four weeks ago, half of a dozen tornadoes ripped across West Michigan, and while a lot of progress has been made, some home owners and business owners are still cleaning up.

At True Blue Farms, a berry operation, it's still hard to believe everyone made it out unharmed. The roof was found a half of a mile down the road; a rider truck was lifted and turned over on its side.

True Blue Farms owner Shelly Hartmann tells FOX 17 it's been a wild ride since that day, but True Blue Farms hasn't missed a beat.

Shelly Hartmann, owner True Blue Farms

"God don’t give us more than we can handle," Hartmann said, adding that she truly believes everything happens for a reason.

"I have lost a lot of sleep over it. I might have a few more wrinkles, but other than that, we’re all good," she said. And she's more than thankful that the employees she considers family are all safe and sound.

"We can clean this up, we can rebuild this, we can fix the machinery, buy new. But people’s lives we cannot replace," she said.

The fresh packing operation at True Blue Farms in Grand Junction was only three years old, but now it's pretty beat up. Hartmann says she's still not sure if her lug tenders, blowers, laser sorters, soft sorter combos, and inspection lines even work. But they have moved their packing routine back to the area previously used before the newer operating area was built.

Hartmann says they're still searching for hundreds of their crates, known as lugs, that carry blueberries. As for those that were found, they are hand washing every single one. Nearly four weeks after the tornadoes, the electric system is finally up and running and the generator is gone.

Engineers will make a decision later this week on whether or not the damaged packing facility can be repaired. Hartmann says they're still removing debris.

In addition, nearly 16 employee vehicles were damaged, and several of those workers didn't have insurance. Shelly and her husband decided to pay in full to replace their employee's windshields.

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