Dexter: One Year After The Devastating Tornado

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

It's been one year since Dexter was devastated by an EF-3 tornado.

Friday the town remembered the 140 mph winds and reflected on how things have changed.

The first thing most people in Dexter noticed this morning: the weather.

"I'm glad the weather's cold," Ty Rentenbach said. "I don't think they have such thing as a snow tornado."

Many say like the weather, things are back to normal in their small community, but that doesn't mean anyone has forgotten the tornado's damage. Rentenbach rode out the storm with his family in their basement in Huron Farms neighborhood.

"It's in the back of your mind all the time," Retenbach said. "It's been one year. Sometimes it seems longer, sometimes it seems shorter, but there's still evidence that it came through."

Some people in his neighborhood hardest hit just moved back in this week, and the community has been helping every step of the way.

"Everybody was there for everyone, and if you need food or clothes or help cleaning your yard, people were willing to do just about anything," Dexter Community Development Manager Allison Bishop said.

That generosity continues as companies donate trees. Dexter also has 16 new tornado sirens throughout the area.

"The tornado sirens are so close together, you can hear them inside your home," Dexter Area Fire Dept. Lt. Michael Grissom said.

Lt. Grissom was a first responder the day of the tornado. It's changed his routine a little bit.

"We do have a separate weather station here," Grissom said. "I probably check it three or four times a day when I'm working, just to see if there's something coming in."

Others are changing their routines by making new memories on this day. Some parents played hooky with their kids.

"My wife said, she said, 'Oh, just go take the girls, and take a lot of stress off,'" Retenbach said.

At Mill Creek Middle School, the day was remembered by practicing severe weather preparedness.

"We know that some of these kids were traumatized with what they experienced a year ago, so we want to be delicate, we want to be compassionate, but we also want to make sure that they're following the procedure properly," Mill Creek Middle School Principal Jami Bronson said.

Calmly, quietly, and covering their heads, students made their way to the first floor. They took cover in hallways and bathrooms. Some students felt uneasy about the experience.

"I wish they wouldn't have done it today, it just feels like it's happening again," 8th grader Gigi Eisele said.

Staff was pleased with the tornado drill performance though, and feel they're prepared if something should ever happen again.

On what could be a grim anniversary, it seems most of Dexter is doing just fine.

"We're happy to be moving on," Bishop said.

The LaFontaine Dealership also hosted a community open house Friday night. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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