KENTWOOD, Mich. (July 7, 2014) — Several people could be seen using chainsaws while cleaning up debris from Sunday night’s EF1 tornado that touched down in Kentwood.
Many community members, whether they were affected by the storm or not, were helping each other.
84-year-old Katherine Annable has been on an oxygen tank for about four years. Annable has a smaller oxygen tank that helps her get through in an emergency, but with help from her neighbor’s family, she was able to get her oxygen flowing a lot sooner after her power went out on Sunday night.
“I was sitting there watching channel 17 and it got awful calm,” said Annable.
Annable said that soon after a brief silence Sunday night, heavy rain and wind blew down several trees in her yard. When the electricity was cut off, that meant that her oxygen tank no longer had power. Annable said that this forced her to use a smaller back-up system.
Luckily for Annable, a man named Phillip Holscher was across the street helping his friend’s elderly mother, who then notified him of Annable’s condition.
“With losing power, she’s on oxygen. Well that runs on 110 volts. It has a backup system, but it’s only good for about a night,” said Holscher.
Holscher told Annable that he’d be back in a few hours when the sun came up, adding that he’d bring a generator to power her oxygen tank.
A short time later, Holscher returned.
“We loaded up a generator this morning, brought it up here to make sure that her fridge was going and her oxygen system was able to get charged back up until the consumer boys were able to get the power back on,” said Holscher.
“He fastened it all up and got my refrigerator. He set it up out back and then fastened up refrigerator and fastened up my oxygen and brought it out of the room for me,” said Annable.
When she was able to plug it in, Annable said that she was able to breath normally for the first time in several hours.
“I put it up into my nose and I went ‘Aahh,’ and he said, ‘Are you sure that’s oxygen?'” recalled Annable.
Holscher said that his actions were simply the right thing to do.
“Always remember your neighbors and your friends are there to help, but at the same time you got to help them too. Best way to put it is karma. You help others and hopefully when you have the same problem, those are willing to come back and help you,” said Holscher.
Several community members in Kentwood said that strangers have been helping each other ever since the storm hit.
“It makes me believe America is still America. The founding principals of us helping each other out and standing strong together,” said homeowner Mike Rikley.
Rikley said that he hasn’t slept in almost 24 hours because he has been helping his neighbors remove debris.
It wasn’t long until 15-year-old Logan Van Slyke walked up to help Rikley, even though Van Slyke lives several blocks away.
“I had nothing else to do at my house, so I thought why not just help. All I did was lose power. I didn’t get anything this dramatic, so why not help these guys clean up what they have,” said Van Slyke.
Both Rikley and Van Slyke helped clear the yard of their elderly neighbor. They also said that others showed up to help clean yards where no one was home, hoping to surprise the homeowners when they return.
Pastor Jerry Selleck drove in from Holton just to see where he was needed.
“Just driving into Grand Rapids, all the neighbors are out helping other neighbors,” said Selleck.
Residents were able to drop off wood debris at Kellogg Woods Park on Monday.