During Severe Weather Week, re-visiting August twisters

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NAPOLEON (13abc Action News) - Spring is here, and that means wild weather can't be far off. It's Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio - but as the last few years have shown, severe storms don't read the calendar.

Courtesy: Eric's Wandering Photography

The TV Time Popcorn silos once stood just west of Napoleon on Highway 6. At least 7 of those silos were damaged on the evening of August 24th, as 11 twisters rumbled through our area. (The main image in this story is an aerial photo once the sun came up.)

"Well we used to say we live just past the TV Time Popcorn bins," Judy Sonnenberg said. "And now they tease us about not being able to find our way home."

Judy Sonnenberg's son raced to her house that Wednesday evening, to take cover in her basement. Turns out - he was heading right towards the tornado.

"And he's out here, watching it come across the fields," Sonnenberg said.

As debris flew into the nearby trees, Judy watched from downtown.

"And he said it sounded like a freight train coming at them," Sonnenberg said.

Seven months later, neighbors are still finding debris like these shingles.

"Just through the mile, those people lost a barn and a shed," Sonnenberg said. "And they had a shingle roof."

"The other homeowner, he has a brand new barn, sitting where his barn was destroyed," Nick Nye said.

Nick Nye was working that night, as the Henry County Deputy EMA Director. The county has a system that reverse dials every landline phone in a tornado warning area, but cell phone users have to 'opt in' to receive alerts. They drill for tornado outbreaks, and say they were ready with a large staff.

"Then we went into storm mode," Nye said.

Nye's first step at first light was to visit landowners, looking for damage.

"You know, hey how are you doing, is there anyway that we can help. Do you have insurance," Nye asked.

Because of phone alerts and storm plans, no one in Henry County got hurt. Nye says the best way to practice your plan with kids is to make it into a game.