Tony Cromwell learned early Friday morning how quickly life can change.
“I guess it was a tornado or straight-line winds,” he said, standing in front of his Mt. Lebanon Road home. “It all happened within about five minutes.”
A farmer, Cromwell was up by 5 a.m. to prepare for work. His wife, Connie, was asleep on the couch then, but she woke up and moved into the bedroom.
An hour later, their home was destroyed by the powerful storm that ripped through Tipton County.
“It sounded like hail hit the house, then it just exploded,” he said. “I run in the den and I could see the sky through the roof.”
The roof had been ripped off, the ceilings had fallen in.
Trees all around his property had fallen down, taking power lines with them, and now stood twisted and splintered.
Three of the four grain bins across the street had been moved by winds: two were smashed into pine trees, the top of one of them was in the lake behind Cromwell’s house. Another bin was reportedly in a field a mile away.
“It’s devastation,” he said. “It scared Connie to death. She was laying in the floor, screaming and hollering. It was loud, but I never really heard the wind.”
Phones weren’t working and trees were blocking the doors and windows of Cromwell’s home. His daughter and her family, including her two children, live in a trailer across the field.
He climbed over the trees and borrowed his brother’s four-wheeler to check on them.
“All I was concerned about was these kids, I was trying to get to them.”
Thankfully, there were no injuries and only minor damage to his daughter’s home.
“It didn’t hurt the trailer, but it moved her car. The wind also totaled my SUV and damaged my truck.”
Within minutes family members, friends and neighboring farmers were at Cromwell’s home helping cleanup the damage.
It was an amazing show of support, Connie said.
Outside, chainsaws buzzed for hours to remove the trees from atop the Cromwells’ house. Inside, dozens of other people were wiping down framed family photos, moving furniture out of the house and using shovels to scrape soggy insulation from the floors.
The home he’s lived in all his life had been destroyed, but Tony Cromwell said he’s lucky to be alive.
“It was bad. We was lucky to survive, I guess.”
This article was published in The Leader on May 31, 2013. Copyright © 2013 The Leader/Echo Day. Not to be republished without written consent.