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Tornado damages Civil War-era home

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IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — Moments before an EF1 tornado snapped and uprooted dozens of trees around Jan and Chuck Sanders 150-year-old farmhouse, Mrs. Sanders said she was listening to weather coverage to keep tabs on the storm.

“It looked like it was right over us or coming on soon,” she recalled.

After yelling for everyone to take cover in the basement, Sanders said she went to shut the kitchen door and noticed a tree starting to snap. The tornado had made its way Northeast to Orleans and swept over her home.

“The sound alone was frightening, and I could hear a whistle,” Sanders said.

She added, “It just came on so quick. We couldn’t get to the basement in time.”

Powerful winds uprooted a large maple tree in the front yard and caused another maple to topple onto her Civil War-era home. It crashed onto the roof above her kitchen. That’s where Sanders said she stood moments before impact. Outside of the home, an SUV the Sanders just bought was buried by trees.

Sanders, 79, and her 82-year-old husband have lived in the home since 1981 and said they’ve seen a number of storms pass by over the years. But they said they never would have imagined a tornado hitting their property.

“I find it overwhelming. We just don’t know where to start,” she said.

However, they’re in good hands. Family members and neighbors from the small town stopped by all day to check in on the couple. Many consoled them and made sure they were okay.

Sanders said, “We’ve been offered a home to stay in for a day or two or as long as we need, and that was unexpected and wonderful.”

“It’s nice to have good neighbors,” she added.

The couple said they called the insurance company and were told to call back on Monday to schedule for an adjuster to visit the home.

No one was hurt in Orleans. After observing the storms path on radar, the National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado hit Ionia and Montcalm Counties, Saturday afternoon.

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