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'It could have been so much worse'

Zoe Greszler • Updated Jan 13, 2017 at 11:57 PM

Tuesday’s storm produced winds exceeding 50 mph, tearing off shingles, destroying yard items and downing trees throughout Huron County. 

The Hess family on Cook Road was among area storm damage victims. Tuesday's storm downed two large trees, destroyed a chicken coop and damaged a play set and fence.

However, this was not the worst destruction the family has experienced.

The Hesses moved into their home in 2008 and not long thereafter had to escape for their lives as it burned to the ground. 

“There are so many signs here that make us realize that there is someone looking out for us,” Jen Hess said.

The fire started after the family went to bed.

“We had an indoor wood-burner. It was filled up and was going good,” she said. “I woke up and I saw flashing lights outside and thought it was a snowplow truck — it was two weeks before Christmas,” she said. “I thought it would go by and waited, but it didn’t.

“My husband got up and checked and he said, ‘Go grab the boys; the house is on fire!’ It was terrifying. ... There was a small crack in the chimney that (the fire) got through and it caught the siding on fire and it was so windy and the house was so old that the whole thing just went up in flames and it destroyed it. It was gone. The firefighters couldn’t save it.”

The family was displaced and without much of anything left. The few salvageable remains — some dishes and odds and ends — were put into a few totes and placed in a workshop on the property. Within a few weeks, while the family was staying at another location, someone broke into the shop, turned over all of their containers, breaking some of the contents in the process, and then stole all of her husband’s tools, along with a car motor he was working on.

Rather than dwell on the negative, the family started making plans to rebuild.

“It could have been so much worse,” Hess said.

“We were all in the house and the boys were sleeping. This storm (from Tuesday) made me think of that fire. It could have been so much worse with that too. The tree that fell, it could have fallen on the (workshop) and destroyed it or on the barn and our cows could have gotten out. It could have fallen on a car passing by. It just could have gone so much worse than it did.”

“One of the two trees that fell was the biggest tree on our road,” she said. “I’m sure it was over 100 feet. You could see it about a quarter mile away, on Route 60. It was a marker for us. It literally broke off five or six feet above the ground and it looks like it jumped, it was so far from the stump and it broke in about three pieces.”

But still, the family was fortunate, Hess said. Other than knocking down “five poles worth of electrical wire” and a few boards to a fence, the tree didn’t cause as much damage as it could have. 

The family also suffered the damage and destruction of a chicken coop that thankfully was not in use for the winter, part of a swing set and some “cheap wire fencing.”

“The way it fell was just perfect. It just made me think back to our fire. It could have been so much worse. We’re all still here and we’re all OK,” she said. “It’s really made me appreciate things in life. I’m more positive than I ever was before.”

In other areas, residents reported the loss of shingles, destruction of play sets and other yard items. At one location, a she was blown completely off its foundation.

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