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Neighbors help start cleanup in Ionia County following tornado

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IONIA COUNTY, Mich. -- A small group of volunteers banded together to help clear some of the smaller branches on Jan and Chuck Sanders Orleans property. It was struck by a tornado, Saturday afternoon.

"They knocked at the door this morning about 8 o' clock this morning and told me they were here to help," Jan Sanders said.

It was a pleasant surprise for the 79-year-old. Sanders said neighbor Al Almy showed up to her Civil War-era home on his tractor.

Almy said, "When something like this happens, the neighbors in this area tend to rally around each other and help each other out."

The group said it's leaving the larger trees for the insurance adjuster to get a look for himself. Huge trees left the Sanders' home with serious damage. Two maples crashed onto the roof above the kitchen. It's now covered by a tarp. Their SUV shared the same fate. But Jan Sanders daughter Amy, who lives in another home just feet away, said the community support has been overwhelming.

"We've had people stop by and drop off bottles of water, and people that we don't know, all the way from Ionia," she said.

Sanders added, "We've had a lot of friends and family that have showed up, and they have been just so great."

When it comes to cutting all the toppled lumber on the property, Jan Sanders said she lost count of the people either looking for work or those looking to give of themselves freely.

"We've had to turn away a lot of people, but we've had so many people come and offer us food, places to stay food and just kindness. I can't believe just how kind everybody's been," Sanders said.

As the crew stockpiled what branches they could, the insurance adjuster arrived and assessed the property which Sanders and her husband moved into 35 years ago.

Sanders said, "I'm sure there's more damage than what it looks like."

"We really appreciate everything everybody's done," she said.

Almy said, "We do what we can to leave the place as clean as we can."

Now that the adjuster has come and gone, the Sanders said they're waiting on the insurance company's contractor to come and take a look at the roof above the kitchen. Soon they'll get the larger branches cleared.

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