Massive destruction at Seneca County family farm from Sunday storms

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BASCOM, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Days after a line of severe storms and tornadoes tore through northwest Ohio, a major cleanup continues in Seneca County. A family farm just outside Bascom was hit hard. It could be more than a week before all the debris is picked up, but the family is getting a lot of help.

The Wertz family has made a living off this land for generations, "It's awful because our family has been on this farm for over 100 years. I have so many memories in all the buildings with my parents and all my brothers and sisters."

High winds made quick work of multiple barns tearing off roofs, uprooting trees and ripping apart walls. When she first saw what happened to the farm she grew up on, Beverly Digby says she was shocked, "I cried. It was devastating to see that. To see it that takes your breath away. You think how can this happen?"

Mike Wertz is a fifth-generation farmer. He says after seeing the scope of the damage, he's just thankful his parents weren't hurt and all the animals are safe, "What do you think when you look at all this? I think about how much work I have to do. I have to get everything cleaned up and get things rebuilt."

That will be no easy task. People have been working nearly 20 hour days at the farm since the storm hit. The family says damage estimates are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, "This is a shop where we had parties and things and it was destroyed. We also operated a canned meat business out of here and had to move everything into the house. It also took out the roof off half of a building we just put up a year or so ago."

One of the original barns is still standing. But Mike says it too may have to come down, "I really hope that one can stay because of the heritage and its historical value. That was one of the first buildings on this farm."

Debris was strewn across the fields. Beverly says some of it was carried quite a distance, "My sister lives about a mile from here, and some of the debris was out in her field. Other debris was even found past her place. Some people who stopped by to help told us the roof of one of our buildings was in their yard about two miles away."

In the midst of the destruction has been an incredible showing from the community. Friends,family and even complete strangers have rolled up their sleeves to help. In spite of the extensive damage, Beverly says the family will rebuild.

The family is grateful for the show of support, "This will be a renewal of sorts. Everyone will help and we will do what we can to make it the way my brother and his wife need it to be. That's what family is about, and Seneca County is a good community. This is also Ohio, and helping each other is what we do here in Ohio!"

The Wertz family does have insurance but not enough to cover the cost of all the damage. A community cleanup will be held at the farm on State Route 635. It's just north of the Hopewell-Loudon schools and the town of Bascom. It starts this Saturday morning at ten. Everyone is invited to be part of the effort.

A GoFundMe page has been set up, and we've posted a link.
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