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Neighbors in Sterling Estates come together in wake of tornado

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 10:21 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 9:38 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo by Heidi Litchfield - For the Morris Daily Herald)
Damage was done to the home of Mark and Missy Adair in Sterling Estates.

DIAMOND - Neighbors in Sterling Estates in Diamond were pulling together to board up and clean up after Sunday’s tornado left a path of destruction through their tight-knit neighborhood.

Several of the homes in the subdivision weren’t built with basements so neighbors huddled together in the houses that had them.

“I went to the basement with neighbors when I saw it building and heading our way,” Nick Meents said.

He said he is one of the lucky ones, missing some shingles and the items from his backyard, no one was hurt.

“We were lucky,” he said. “Our windows are intact and the frame is tweaked but we are in much better shape than some of our neighbors.”

The neighbors behind to the southwest of him weren’t quite as lucky.

Michale Karpinski viewed the damage through a rough opening at the back of his home where a window once sat. A window that was ripped frame and all from his home and landed in his back yard.

Karpinski’s home, 2645 Sterling Court, was damaged on all sides. Windows are blown out, shattered glass laid in the hallway and around children’s toys on the family room floor, and a chandelier swayed from the wind tunneling through the foyer.

“I’m still shell shocked,” Karpinski said. “It hasn’t hit me yet.”

Karpinski was at home with five family members and Penny, their dog. He said they heard the first siren and went outside to look, but it looked clear, when they heard the second siren it was much darker and they decided to head downstairs. He’s one of the lucky ones in the neighbor hood who has a basement, and even a tornado room just in case.

“You could see it forming,” he said. “Then the obvious happened. It got quiet, then the sound of a freight train came.”

As family converged on the house to make sure they were okay, they stood around unsure what to do, other than wait for the company his insurance company was sending out to board up the home.

Outside Char and Tom Dillman stood in their backyard surveying the damage and looking for wood to board up their windows.

They own one of the homes without a basement.

“We went across the street to our neighbor’s house and went into their basement,” Char said.

She said the neighbors look out for one another and open up their homes to each other when sirens alert to dangerous weather conditions.

When she walked out of her neighbor’s house she was shocked to find the car she left in the driveway in front of her garage door sitting in her front yard.

In their backyard was a lawn mower and a snow blower that don't belong to them, but they are unsure which one of the neighbors it belongs to.

Down the street Mark and Missy Adair surveyed their garage where the entire outer wall was missing to both the garage and their attic.

Christmas decorations littered the yard, having fallen from the now-open attic.

“We were down in our basement before the first siren went off, we got a warning on our cell before it happened,” Mark said. “We went into the bathroom and left the door open a crack to hear what was going on, we didn’t hear much”

It wasn’t long before his cell phone rang again, this time it wasn’t a warning, it was a neighbor calling with the news that his garage wall was gone.

“I hope people learn to never think it can’t happen to you,” he said. “This should be a lesson to people to take cover.”

Taking cover isn’t the only lesson the Adair family want people to take away from their situation.

“We’re devastated.” Missy said. “People need to learn to stay home. We had people driving through taking pictures of our home. First we were violated by the storm, and then by people. It would be different if they asked if we were OK but they don’t.”

As she was being interviewed kids ran up with broken pieces to the family nativity set, which they had set out to find. Holding back the tears in her eyes, she explained how they wanted to find them.

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