What people saw, heard in Clark County: Woman shields daughter, roofs blown off amid tornado reports

Clark County residents shared their experiences after a suspected tornado hit part of the county south and east of the county fairgrounds on Wednesday morning, Feb. 28.

Here is a roundup of what witnesses told us:

Rebekah Stewart went into her garage to get her husband, John, when she heard winds starting to pick up between 4:50 and 5 a.m. at their home on Mitchell Road.

“It really started picking up, so I came running back upstairs to get our daughter, who’s three, out of the bedroom and my son who was in the hallway. He’s 17. And by the time I got her out of bed, the tornado came through, and I had to jump on top of her and shield her,” Stewart said. “Luckily, we were safe. We all made it out safely.”

Stewart, her son and daughter have minor injuries, and John Stewart has some cuts, but she said they “we’re good for the most part.”

A tornado was reported at 4:54 a.m. southeast of Springfield with heavy debris and moderate damaged reported near Mitchell Road.

Stewart said they pretty much lost everything in the tornado, but tried to salvage some of their personal items they could find.

“The house is pretty much gone,” she said. “We’re just glad we’re all OK and alive and we made it out.”

Ted Williams was fixing his in-laws’ roof, which suffered extensive damage, in Harmony Twp. on Wednesday morning after the storm. He said that the 80-plus-year-olds sheltered in their hallway early this morning because they don’t have a basement.

Neighbors have been checking on each other and first responders have been helpful, Williams said.

“One of my high school buddies who lives over on the other road was able to get them out of the house in the dark this morning,” Williams said.

His in-laws are now at his house, Williams said.

A man was not injured when a large tree fell on his Jeep early Wednesday morning as he was driving on state Route 41 in Clark County.

Don Mangen was driving on Ohio 41 in Clark County when a tree fell on his Jeep.

“I came through a light … and that tree just fell straight on top of the Jeep and spun me, threw me into the ditch,” he said.

Shoji Uota, a Ridge Road resident, said he and his family were asleep in bed when the storm ripped off their roof.

Suddenly, he said, they heard the “sound of a big storm. Wind shows up, boom, and that’s what happens ... Not even 10 seconds.”

He said everyone seemed to be OK, so they found their shoes and tried to get out of the house into the rain.

Uota said: “This is a natural disaster. This is God’s hand.”

In the 1700 block of New Love Road, a couple’s home was severely damaged by a neighbor’s barn.

“It appears the neighbor’s pole barn was uprooted and hit the back of our house, (took it) off the foundation,” said Charles Eckart.

“It blew the back door in, took some closet doors off, busted the backside of the upper doors.”

Paul Taulbee said he was hauling a brand new camper trailer to a man in Pennsylvania coming down Ridge Road and it was barely raining with no wind when the tornado “came out of nowhere” and tipped the trailer on its side. He was coming down a hill slamming on his brakes as the tornado dragged him to the side of the road, leaving only chains attaching the trailer.

Taulbee said the experience was “the scariest thing in my life.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Jeff Boswell, a contractor for Guardian Exteriors and Restoration, said he went to the Ridge Road area at around 5:30 a.m. to help people affected by the storm. He said he helped some people out of the garage by moving the damaged door, and now he and others are working to board up holes and repair other damage to roofs.

“It is pretty devastating out here; there’s houses blown off the foundations and back walls are completely blown out everywhere, [and] trees are down everywhere,” Boswell said.