Some residents still in repair mode from tornadoes last May - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Some residents still in repair mode from tornadoes last May

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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) - (06/03/14) - A little more than a year ago, on May 28, six tornadoes ripped across parts of Shiawassee and Genesee counties.

While there is still some cleanup and repairs to do, for the most part, it's back to normal.

An EF1 tornado packing wind speeds up to 105 mph started near Hasselbring Park, in northern Genesee County, and moved across Saginaw Street between Hostlander and Downey Avenue, uprooting trees and damaging several commercial buildings.

The roof of Bertram Lawrence's T-Shirt Shop still needs repairs. "It was a lot of electrical wires down. A lot of debris all over the place. I've never seen anything like this before, so it was quite incredible," Lawrence said.

Other nearby businesses, just down the street, like Cobb's Bait and Tackle, narrowly escaped a knockout blow.

"We just happened to come up to the shop to see if it was OK, and by that time, a lot of the other buildings, the tornado had already came through and it kind of went through and did all the damage, but we were blessed it didn't touch our shop," said owner Katrina Cobb.

In southern Genesee County, an even stronger EF2 twister packing 115 mph winds tore through Fenton Township. One resident hit hard was former Fenton Township Fire Chief Howard Fredenburg.

"By the time I grabbed the basement door handle, it hit. And I watched it go out through the back window," he said.

Luckily, Fredenburg wasn't injured. You can't say the same for his home.

"We had damage to the roof, a hole through the roof, about $40,000 damage to the house," he said.

Several boats were damaged. A storage shed that was ripped apart has yet to be replaced. His fifth wheel was just recently returned to him after an extensive repair job, according to Fredenburg.

"The front plastic piece, a 40 foot tree fell on it," he said.
Next door, at George Higham's house, the damage was even greater with a repair bill of nearly $180,000. Higham told us the story of how he barely managed to escape the tornado.

"It was like an earthquake, then a big kaboom and the roof was gone in the back. I never made it downstairs. I made it down at the bottom of the steps with the three dogs. They were smarter than I was. They beat me down there," he said.

Higham's home sustained extensive water damage, broken trusses and ruined insulation.

Higham says there's still work to be done.

"Flooring to put in, carpet to put in, painting to do. The deck's got to be done," he said.

Thankfully, for the most part, severe weather has been absent so far this spring.

For those still recovering from last' year's tornadoes, they'll be happy if it stays this way.

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