Tornadoes Destroy Genesee County Homes

Posted at 9:12 PM, May 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-29 21:20:40-04

GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. – A series of tornadoes plowed through Genesee County Tuesday night, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

FOX 17 spent Wednesday, May 29,  in the area checking out the damage left behind from the powerful winds. We first arrived in Atlas Township where a home was destroyed by the storm. The yard was littered with debris, clothing and toys. Everything that was on the inside of the home, was now outside. The toilet was blown out into the backyard and the kitchen sink dangled from the outside of the house

Bob Bush said his daughter, Ashley lived there. As he walked away from the home, in his hands, were two garbage bags filled with clothes, the only things salvageable.

He said his daughter was inside with her three young children when the storm hit. His daughter told him that they took cover in the basement. He said he was texting her throughout the course of the storm from a neighboring town to make sure that she and his grandchildren were OK.

“There was a tornado by us and it went by. I said, ‘well, you stay in the basement because I’m watching television and there’s one bearing down in your area,” Smith said. “Two minutes later, she texted me that it hit and [she texted] ‘help.'”

Smith said his daughter shielded her children, ages 3, 4 and 10 months, with her body. Remarkably, he said they all came out of the rubble without so much as a scratch.

About 20 miles West of that home was another family devastated by the storm.

Martin Smith said he and his wife have lived in their home in Fenton Township for more than 20 years, but that it took just minutes for a tornado to destroy it. He said they took cover in the basement, but that he came back upstairs to grab some items, such as his wallet and cellphone.

“I went back up there to get them and I looked out the back window and that funnel cloud was coming,” Smith said. “I headed for the basement, got half-way down, and the power went out.”

He made it just in time. He said the tornado hit almost as soon as he stepped foot in the basement. While taking cover, he and his wife could hear the sounds of the roof being ripped off by nature’s grip.

When they walked back up the stairs he said he was shocked at how much damage happened in such a short period of time. He said it’s a day he and his wife will never forget, but that they didn’t need the tornado as a reminder, because the day is already special.

“We’ve been here 20 years. Today’s our 31st wedding anniversary,” Smith said.