Tornado leaves elderly couple in Bangor homeless

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BANGOR, Mich. — Vernon Crawford looked at the mess of leaves and twigs on his floor and shook his head.

“I’m devastated,” said Crawford. “I don’t know where we’re going to go from here or what we’re going to do.”

A 100-mile-per-hour tornado tore through their home on Saturday. Vernon said the winds were so strong that it pushed a large tree from their backyard into the middle of their kitchen. It crashed only a feet away from where his 72-year-old wife Pat was standing.

“My wife said she hollered for me,” said Crawford. “But I didn’t even hear her.”

Crawford, 64, said he’ll never forget  what happened that day. He was in the front of his trailer home, working on the computer when the lights flickered on and off three times. The final time it happened he knew something was wrong.

“The winds just came on with such force and such noise,” said Crawford, who lived in the home for under two years with Pat. “Some people like to compare that to a train. No, a train's just a musical box compared to what I heard. Then all hell broke loose.”

Vernon said the sky grew dark and their home started to tremble, including the kitchen cabinets which he just put in. Windows everywhere were shattering. That’s when he thinks the tree crashed into their home, nearly splitting it in two. It fell with such power that it knocked off the freezer door on their refrigerator.

“I was holding on like this,” said Pat with her hands gripping the frame of the hallway. “I don’t know if I thought I was going to keep the trailer from falling.”

Pat saw it all and immediately shouted for Crawford, her husband of 25 years, to bring her the slippers. There was too much glass on the floor for her to walk to him barefoot.

“Then we come out here and it’s raining like hell,” said Crawford. “We didn’t get no further than the porch and we’re just surveying it [saying] ‘Oh no.’ We knew our house was a total loss.”

And it was. Debris, limbs and branches filled the yard Vernon said. Neighbors came over afterwards and helped them pick up the pieces. Pat’s family stopped by and chopped up what was left of the tree. That night they stayed with family and have since then. However, they’d like to get back into a place of their own.

"My daughter did find a resource from the veterans," said Crawford. "Something about they want to help get me an apartment somewhere. They were going to help with the first month and the deposit maybe."

The Crawfords don't have home owners insurance. So their daughter April set up a GoFundMe page to help them out. Vernon said he's grateful for her assistance and for everyone's who is getting them through this difficult time.

"I guess it’ll come together in the long run," said Crawford. "At least that’s what I keep hearing. Keep hoping for."

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