MARTELL TOUCHDOWN: Tom Saari, dogs feeling fortunate

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MARTELL -- Tom Saari happened to be in his basement.

He had paperwork to do.

Saari was suddenly interrupted when a tornado ripped his garage off the side of his house. The garage was a total loss. The van inside the garage had a damaged tail light.

The damage at Saari’s house on 780th Avenue just west of County Road J was one of many houses affected by a tornado that authorities said cut an estimated 10-mile path Wednesday, June 28, around 4:30 p.m. in through the towns of Martell, Beldenville and eventually Spring Valley where officials were busy assessing damage in the area in the early evening.

Saari knew he was fortunate, but his property will never be the same.

“These buildings are gone,” he said. “They aren’t just damaged, they’re gone.”

One of his first thoughts when he processed that a tornado had likely touched down was where were his dogs, Champ and Luna. They had been in the kennel attached to one of his sheds in the backyard.

“I came outside and she (Champ) came running right up to me,” Saari said. “I didn’t see Luna anywhere. So I was calling for her.”

The shed was gone, so he was worried.

Luna eventually came running with her tail wagging. Everyone was all right.

“It can all be replaced, I guess,” he said taking a look around the property as he waited for the power company and the insurance company to arrive.

As Saari walked around his property he was amazed at the different things the tornado had done. Two rows of big round hay bales lined up behind a silo were moved in disarray. The silo lost its top, but the structure remained sound. One of the bales was thrown at least 100 yards toward neighbor Barry Cain’s property to the east.

The Cains’ house had damage to the garage as well and tree damage, but there were no injuries, just disbelief and uncertainty.

Disbelief was a common theme in Martell. The most commonly heard phrases were heavy sighs and wows.